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Softball: Warriors advance thanks to timely hitting

The Brainerd Warriors hosted the Sartell Sabres in the Section 8-4A Quarterfinals Tuesday, May 23.

Brainerd softball players in action
Brainerd Warrior Ella Chaussee throws to first base Tuesday, May 23, 2023, against the Sartell Sabres during the Section 8-4A Quarterfinals at Adamson Field.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — As Lacy Busch put it, “Been there. Done that.”

The No. 2 seeded Brainerd Warriors opened Section 8-4A Tournament play against No. 7 seeded Sartell Tuesday, May 23, at Adamson Field.

The Warriors struggled against the Sabres during the regular season. They lost the first match-up to the Sabres 2-0 as Sartell pitcher Danica Sarff no-hit Brainerd. In the second game of the Central Lakes Conference doubleheader, which was played a day later because of weather, the Warriors defeated Sartell 6-5 in 10 innings.

On Tuesday, it was all Brainerd who knocked the Sabres into the loser’s bracket with a 5-1 victory.

“Oh no,” Busch said about the team’s nerves. “We knew the pitching already so we were confident with it. We were all relaxed and we just shook it off from the last time we played them.

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“We’ve been here and done that. We’re all calm. We’re all excited. That’s basically it.”

Brainerd jumped to a 2-0 lead after one inning as Busch ripped a two-out single to start a two-run rally. Maren Ceynowa singled followed by an Elsa Bochert single to score Busch. Ceynowa then scored on a Joze Tautges single.

Ella Chaussee started a one-out rally in the second inning with a single. Josie Kappes followed with a single and Mya Tautges scored Chaussee with a ground out. Kappes later scored on a Busch single.

“It was all about confidence,” Busch said. “You have to have your heads up because when our heads our down we don’t do as well. We all started hitting and we all got super excited and any pressure just went away.”

Brainerd softball players in action
Brainerd Warrior Lacy Busch celebrates a play during the Section 8-4A Quarterfinals against the Sartell Sabres Tuesday, May 23, 2023, at Adamson Field.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Busch finished 2-3 with a run and an RBI. Joze Tautges finished with two RBIs and Ella Chaussee was 2-3 with a run.

“Two outs is just a number,” Warriors head coach Shane Jordan said. “It’s a number that maybe gets you to the next half inning, but we don’t worry about that. When we get a chance to hit and we’re in the batter’s box, I don’t think the girls feel too much pressure. I think they’re feeling pretty confident.”

Brainerd tagged on a run in the fifth inning when Ceynowa led off with a nine-pitch walk. Mallori Headley pinch-ran for Ceynowa and reached third on two wild pitches. Joze Tautges then grounded out to score the insurance run and make it 5-0.

Sartell answered with its only run. Sarff led off with a walk. She reached second on a single and moved to third on a passed ball. The Sabres then loaded the bases with no outs.

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Mya Tautges then struck out the next batter, but hit Makalah Schnortz to score Sarff. Tautges then struck out the next two to end the threat.

Tautges struck out 11 and allowed the earned run. She scattered five hits and four walks. The Sabres had runners on base in all but the first and fourth innings, but they stranded 10 runners.

Brainerd’s defense was stellar behind the sophomore pitcher, especially Chaussee who made four putouts from her second baseman position with one assist and Borchert who caught three fly balls hit to right field.

“Practice, definitely practice,” Busch said has been the key to Brainerd’s improved defense. “We always need to get our swings in and our fielding in and then we’re good to go.”

Jordan said Chaussee’s play was nice to see since the team focused on defense in practice on Monday.

“Borchert caught a couple of fly balls and we’ve been working on that,” Jordan said. “But it was really cool to see Ella get those couple of balls behind her and to her left because that was practiced really hard Monday. That was worked really hard by our middles to get back and get those balls. The helmet (Brainerd’s Player of the Game award) was given to Ella because she drop-stepped and made those plays. That was huge.”

Brainerd advances to the section semifinals to face No. 6 seeded St. Cloud, who upset No. 3 Rogers 6-5 Tuesday.

Brainerd and St. Cloud split during the regular season.

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Unlike Busch and her teammates, Jordan was not as cavalier about Tuesday’s game.

“I think I was more nervous today than I was the entire state tournament last year,” Jordan said. “Sartell is a great team. They have a great pitcher and our girls played great. This is the time of the year when outcomes matter. We had a good outcome today and I’m really proud of our kids.”

Sartell 1 5 1

Brainerd 5 9 1

WP: Mya Tautges. LP: Danica Sarff.

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

Warriors 5, Sartell 1

Key: A two-out, two-run rally in the bottom of the first was all Brainerd needed.

Overall: Brd 17-3, Sar 14-7

Next: No. 2 Brainerd hosts No. 3 Rogers/No. 6 St. Cloud winner in Section 8-4A Championship Semifinals 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 25.

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