Softball: Warriors continue title defense with 3-0 win
The Brainerd Warriors hosted the St. Cloud Crush in the Section 8-4A Semifinals Thursday, May 25.
BRAINERD — The Brainerd Warriors might be lacking offensive fireworks, but defense wins championships and Brainerd has a defense.
Brainerd pitcher Mya Tautges and the Warriors defense held the No. 6 seeded St. Cloud Crush hitless through six innings and scored a 3-0 victory in the Section 8-4A Championship semifinals Thursday, May 25, at Adamson Field.
“I guess confidence is the biggest difference,” Warriors senior Ella Chaussee said about the defense. “It’s confidence in ourselves and our teammates. We definitely practice a lot of fielding the ball so it’s just a lot of practice and building that confidence.”
The Warriors procured all the offense they would need in the first inning when Josie Kappes singled followed by a Mya Tautges single. With two outs, Ella Borchert pounded out a two-run single to Brainerd’s 2-0 advantage.
“I’m proud of Borchert,” Warriors head coach Shane Jordan said. “She’s stepping up and she’s done that a few times this year. At times when we needed a big hit, she’s been the one to provide it.
“In the 22 games that we’ve played, it seems like someone different has come up with a big hit. I can go down the lineup where there has been a crucial hit by someone so that’s nice as a coach when you know you need a hit you can count on someone one through nine.”
Then it was all Tautges and Brainerd’s defense. After a three-up, three-down first inning, Tautges walked two Crush batters, but induced a ground ball to Chaussee to end the threat. Brainerd then got perfect third, fifth and sixth innings. An iffy error in the fourth was the only blemish for the Warriors. Tautges then ended the fourth inning with a strikeout.
“It’s great that we’re playing great defense,” Jordan said. “I love it. I’d love to score more runs, but our defense has gotten better and better every game. I’m so proud of our kids because they've worked hard in practice. They ask for extra ground balls. They want extra fly balls. We’ve been playing really great defense.
“I know we can score more runs, but give the Crush pitcher credit. She was hitting her spots really well.”
Tautges struck out nine and walked three. She allowed just one hit in the seventh. She threw 103 pitches with 62 going for strikes.
“I hate getting into 3-2 counts because then the hitter knows you have to throw strikes and that’s something we’ll work on, but Mya is so good," Jordan said. "She is so critical of herself that if she misses a spot, you can see it on her face when you come to watch our games. Her body language shows she is disappointed. Some people might think she’s mad at the ump. I think she’s disappointed in herself because she wants to be that perfect.”
Brainerd added an insurance run in the seventh when Lacy Busch singled. That was followed by a Maren Ceynowa single. Once again, it was Borchert who drove in the run with a single. Borchert was 2-3 with three RBIs. Mya Tuatges singled twice as Brainerd was held to just eight hits total.
“Their pitcher has really good spin,” Jordan said. “She had one pitch, a little curve ball that’s moving away from right-handers, but she also throws a fastball that is pretty straight and so if you’re expecting something to break a little bit and it’s straight then it kind of jams you a little bit and that happened to us. We got jammed on a few swings. Our swings aren’t bad. They’re good. We have kids who can swing the bat really well and it will come.”
While the strike zone may not have been favorable for Tautges Thursday, her defense had her back.
“It was a real small strike zone tonight so we knew we had to step up defensively and get those balls and make those plays for her,” Chaussee said. “She’s doing great out there.”
The Warriors split with St. Cloud April 25. St. Cloud handed Brainerd its first loss in two years with a 4-3 defeat in Game One of the Central Lakes Conference doubleheader.
Brainerd rebounded with a 7-0 Game Two victory.
St. Cloud’s lone hit came from Autumn Orchirt who led off the seventh with a single. She was tagged out at second on a fielder’s choice. Tautgs then struck out the next batter. After a walk put two runners on and the tying run at the plate, Tautges forced a groundout to Ceynowa who threw to first baseman Molly Wieland to send the Warriors into the winner’s bracket final Tuesday, May 30. The No. 2 seeded Warriors will travel to top-seeded St. Michael-Albertville for the winner’s bracket finale. The Warriors defeated STMA twice to win last year’s Section 8-4A title.
“I think we need to just watch the ball all the way in,” Chaussee said about Brainerd’s lack of offense. “Like Jodan told us, we’re missing the last two or three feet of it. We’re not watching it all the way in. As soon as we do that I think we’ll be hitting home runs left and right.
“We’re feeling great. We’re prepared and confident. Josie always gets us fired up before games. We’re feeling very confident and happy with how we’re doing so far.”
St. Cloud 0 1 0
Brainerd 3 8 1
WP: Mya Tautges. LP: Lola Jacobs.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Warriors 3, St. Cloud 0
Key: Mya Tautges and the Warrior defense allowed just one hit.
Overall: Brd 18-4, SC 15-7.
Next: Brainerd in Section 8-4A winner’s bracket final at St. Michael-Albertville 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 30.