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Softball: Warriors open season with 10-run win

The Brainerd Warriors hosted the Rocori Spartans.

Brainerd softball player slides safely into home.
Brainerd's Maren Ceynowa slides into home against Rocori Thursday, April 21, 2022, at Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — Meghan Smith could only stand back and watch.

In Smith’s final at-bat, she watched as a pitch snuck by Rocori Spartans backup catcher Elli Koeniguer. A heady Kasia Kroll, who led off the fifth inning by reaching on an error, darted toward home from third base. The senior speedster slid under the tag to secure the Brainerd Warriors’ 11-1 Central Lakes Conference victory Thursday, April 21, at Adamson Field.

Smith joined the rest of her teammates in celebrating Kroll’s craftiness as Brainerd opened the season with the win.

“One thing we do is we take a lead like we’re going to steal,” Smith said. “That’s how we win games. I just saw the runners taking advantage of it and seeing what needed to be done.”

It was a Smith double that tied the score 1-1 in the second. Smith lined a shot to right-center field to score Maren Ceynowa. Rocori struggled to handle the ball and Smith scored on the same play to make it 2-1.

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The Warriors scored six runs in the second inning and added two more in the third. Smith led off the third with a solo home run to left field.

“I’ve been working on my hitting a lot in practice so it was just good to get something out of it,” Smith said. “It showed that it pays off to work. It did feel like a home run.”

Sophie Mattson added the second run. Mattson was 2-3 with an RBI. She also caught the hard-throwing Olivia Tautges to the one-hitter. The senior struck out eight, walked two and allowed just one hit, a double that scored Rocori’s lone run.

Tautges threw just 69 pitches, 44 for strikes.

She was also 2-3 with a double and an RBI. Mya Tautges drove in a run as she was 2-3 with two singles. Kroll finished 3-4 with two runs and an RBI.

“I am happy,” Jordan said. “We have an experienced group that has practiced really hard this spring. I know we’ve been inside a lot, but we’ve done all of the little things inside the gym. We’ve worked on the glove work and defense. I’m proud of the defense, proud of the offense, but we still have things we can do to get better.”

Ceynowa reached base after being hit by the pitch to start the fourth inning. Smith then walked. Mattson reached on an error that scored Ceynowa and Smith to make it 10-1 after four innings.

“That’s what we like to say Warrior softball is all about,” Jordan said. “We can hit the ball over the fence, but small ball and running the bases is who we are. We take pride in running the bases. We talk about leading off and how to take chances to put pressure on the other team. That paid off today. That’s how we scored the first few runs today. We created havoc and that's what we want to do.”

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In the fifth, Kroll reached on an error. She moved to second on an Olivia Tautges single. Emma Tautges was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. After a strikeout, Smith stepped to the plate and could only watch as the game ended on the last pitch she saw.

“Honestly, I feel that with our team, our energy is just so high that we’re not really worried about things,” Smith said. “We know we can do this and we can go to state. We just work hard every day and we know we can get there if we just do our stuff.

“I feel like the biggest part of our success today was the fact we’ve been indoors for three or four weeks. When we do get to go outside it’s like 35 degrees. I think we’re just super excited to be outside. It’s sunny. There is no snow on the ground and we’re just happy to be playing.”

Rocori 1 1 4

Brainerd 11 11 0

WP: Olivia Tautges. LP: Shelby Prom. 2B: Brd-Oliva Tautges, Meghan Smith, Roc-Madie Terrance. HR: Brd-Smith.

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

Warriors 11, Rocori 1

Key: Brainerd played error-free defense, Olivia Tautges struck out seven and Brainerd knocked out 11 hits.

Conference: Brd 1-0, Roc 1-1

Overall: Brd 1-0, Roc 1-1

Next: Brainerd at Forest Lake Tournament Saturday, April 23.

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