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Warriors Athlete of Week: Hanson finding success on Brainerd’s mound

Brainerd junior pitcher Isaac Hanson threw a 2-hitter to spark the Warriors to a season-opening win.

Baseball player throwing ball
Isaac Hanson practices his pitching in the parking lot of Brainerd High School Monday, April 25, 2022.
Steve Kohls / Brained Dispatch
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It would be hard for the Brainerd Warriors to have a better start to the season.

Brainerd opened with a 3-2 victory over state-participant Sartell April 19. Two days later, they topped another state participant in Sauk Rapids for a 2-0 start.

A big reason for that was the pitching and hitting of junior Isaac Hanson. The right-hander got the nod to start against Sartell and went the distance. He allowed two runs on two hits. He walked none and struck out six batters.

“In the first couple of innings I was just attacking with the fastball to see if they were late on it or on time,” Hanson said. “Then, as the game progressed, I was mixing up my pitches more and throwing more off-speed pitches just to keep those guys off balance.”

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Sartell’s two hits happened to be home runs in the third inning to hand the Sabres a 2-0 lead, but Hanson and the Warriors rallied. Hanson admitted that having the first hit he gave up for the season be a home run was tough to swallow, but he said he just regrouped and went after the very next batter.

“That adversity could have gone the other way, especially when those two home runs are in the same inning,” Brainerd head coach Trent Grams said. “When they’re in the same inning like that, it’s a real testament to his courage to be able to come back and continue to pitch. His pitch count was low and he stayed below 105 by the time we were done for the game. We knew he was pitching well. We just needed to score some runs for him. We were able to do that. Then he really did a good job of closing them down after that.”

Hanson finished with 104 pitches. Seventy of those were for a strike, which according to Grams is above where they want all their pitchers to be.

This senior class that we have, they’re a pretty good group of guys.
Isaac Hanson

“We’re always looking to be in that 65% range and so for him to be around 70% strikes, and first-pitch strikes, too, to keep the number of pitches down, was good,” Grams added. “Especially against a really good hitting team. That might be the best hitting team we see this year. Sartell has a very strong hitting lineup and a lot of left-handed hitters, too. So all of those variables ended up turning into something positive at the end.”

Not only was Hanson throwing strikes, but Grams liked how he was attacking batters. He said Hanson was targeting the inside part of the plate and because of his control was able to have success doing that.

“A lot of high school pitchers will usually work the outer half of the plate so they were probably looking for that pitch down the middle or the outer half for the first pitch of the at-bat,” Hanson said. “I was really trying to pitch the inner half of the plate and get those guys jammed.”

Hanson batted second in the Warriors lineup. He walked and scored leading to the 3-2 victory.

“I just want to get the ball in play and hit the ball as hard as I possibly can,” Hanson said. “I don’t want to be swinging at any pitches that are balls, but I’m just trying to get the ball in play and hit the ball on the ground.”

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During the 7-5 Central Lakes Conference win over Sauk Rapids, Hanson went 2-5 at the plate. He also played second base.

“He’s doing well at the plate,” Grams said. “He had two hits against Sauk Rapids and he likes to get on base. That’s his strength. To get on base. He also played a very smooth, clean day at second base and had about four or five putouts as well.”

Baseball has always been Hanson’s sport. He started focusing on just baseball early in his career and devotes his offseason to perfecting his craft. When he’s not working on himself he studies how other pitchers approach different batters and situations. With that work comes confidence, but Hanson isn’t just confident in himself. He’s got high hopes for the team.

“I would say I’m pretty confident in myself when I’m on the mound,” Hanson said. “I’m confident with my pitches and I’m able to execute them and get guys out.

“This senior class that we have, they’re a pretty good group of guys. We have some good leaders on the team and we really think if we can keep the way that we’re playing right now, if we can keep this going, then we’ll have a pretty good season. I think the guys are really jacked right now with going 2-0 and after beating two really good teams we feel like we can beat anybody.”

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

Isaac Hanson

Isaac Hanson
Isaac Hanson

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Sport: Baseball

Position: Pitcher, second baseman

Year: Junior

Age: 17

Height: 5-foot-9

Career highlight: 12U Cal Ripkin World Series in Branson, Missouri

Grade-point average: 3.3

Favorite class: Sports and Fitness

Favorite food: Steak

Favorite movie: “Field of Dreams”

Favorite TV show: “Mountain Monsters”

Favorite website or app: Snapchat or Instagram

Favorite restaurant: Boulder Tap House

Future plans: Playing Division I college baseball

Favorite athlete: Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton

Parents: Steve and Kelli Hanson

Other notable performances

Jacob Holm, boys lacrosse, finished with four goals and three assists against the St. Cloud Crush.

Adam Jensen, baseball, finished 3-5 with an RBI and pitched seven innings of relief for the win against Sauk Rapids.

Jonathan Benson, baseball, was 2-4 with a home run and two RBIs against Sauk Rapids.

Brody Lund, baseball, finished 1-2 with a run and two RBIs against Sartell.

Brynne Folden, girls lacrosse, finished with six goals and one assist against the St. Cloud Crush and five goals against Grand Rapids/Greenway.

Breya Sawyer, girls lacrosse, finished with four goals and one assist against the St. Cloud Crush.

Dillon MacLaughlin, boys track and field, won the 100-meter dash and was part of a winning relay at the Sartell Quad.

Brenna Deason, girls track and field, won the 100 and 200 dashes at the Sartell Quad.

Olivia Tautges, softball, went 6-of-10 with three doubles, a home run, nine RBIs and four runs scored in four games last week. She also struck out 26 batters in 13 innings pitched to collect three wins on the mound.

Meghan Smith, softball, collected a double, two home runs, five RBIs and six runs scored in four wins last week.

Kasia Kroll, softball, went 8-of-13 with won RBI and three runs scored.

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