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Warriors Athlete of Week: Kroll knows her roles for Warriors

Kasia Kroll is a scoring machine for the Brainerd Warriors softball team.

Girl throwing a softball
Brainerd Warrior right fielder Kasia Kroll throws from the outfield Tuesday, May 3, 2022, during practice before her game in Brainerd.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
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Kasia Kroll is like a hangnail.

She’s a sore tooth or a song you can’t get out of your head. To opposing softball teams Kroll is the worst kind of annoyance. To the Brainerd Warriors, she’s a weapon of mass destruction and they love her for it.
The senior right fielder’s goal is to cause chaos on the base paths, score runs and play stellar defense. She must be doing her job as the Warriors are 7-0 and have outscored their opponents 73-12.

“She helps set the table for us,” Warriors head coach Shane Jordan said. “She’s a very good base runner. She’s very savvy. She knows the game very well, but she also is willing to take chances that most kids aren’t willing to take, which we love.”

In the Warriors’ 13-0 Central Lakes Conference victory over Alexandria, Friday, April 29, Kroll went 3-4 with two runs scored.

In Brainerd’s seven games, Kroll has five multi-hit games and has scored at least two runs in five games. Her best offensive game so far came against St. Francis where she went 2-3 with a walk and three runs scored.

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“When she gets on base, we know that within a few pitches she’s probably going to be on second base,” Jordan said. “She’s probably going to steal a base or take advantage of a bobble by the catcher. Once she’s at second base, our hitters know that if they get a hit to the outfield she’s going to score every time just because she’s so fast. That’s huge for our hitters.

“If she gets on base in the first inning and if we can score that run to take an early lead, we feel like we’re going to win that game.”

The Alexandria game pushed the five-year varsity player’s batting average to .520 for the season. She also owns an on-base percentage of .538 with a .560 slugging percentage.

Defensively she’s awesome
Shane Jordan

In 26 plate appearances, Kroll owns 13 hits, one double, a walk, one RBI and a team-high 12 runs scored.

“My goal is just to put the ball in play,” Kroll said. “I want to stay on top of the ball and get it in the dirt. That's my go-to and try to beat the ball out. My coaches have often asked me to be a leader and show my teammates by example how to create chaos on the bases. I just try to read the pitch and read the players and look where they’re stacked up when I’m on the base paths. I just try to read every situation and hopefully the other girls are watching and want to duplicate that.”

Along with being a run-scoring machine, Kroll is a captain and she relishes that role just as much.

“I just want to enjoy the season as much as I can and get as much out of it as I can,” Kroll said. “We want to win as many games as we can and set records and go out with a bang this year.

“We can be as good as any other team in the state. If we all are mentally there every single game and hold each other accountable, I truly believe that we can be the best. But it comes down to where we are mentally once the game actually starts.”

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The speedster is a migraine on the base paths. While she only has one stolen base this season, Jordan said she’d have more if it wasn’t for defensive indifference. She has 62 career stolen bases.

“She’s learned that watching pre-game warmups and watching opponents warm up before the game she can learn who has good arms and who doesn’t,” Jordan said. “She’s really a student of the game in that way. She takes the information that is given to her while watching the other team and she is very savvy that way. She knows if a ball is hit to a certain person, she can take an extra base.”

From her right-field position, Kroll has three putouts and two assists. She’s led Brainerd’s outfield in assists the past four seasons. Kroll started as a center fielder, but moved to right field because of her arm.

“Defensively she’s awesome,” Jordan said. “She’s got a great arm. She has a great nose for the ball. She’s got great instincts and has a good understanding of what pitch is being thrown and has a good idea of where the ball is going to go if the ball is hit.

“She started at center field because of her speed and instincts, but we moved her to right because she has such a good arm and she’s so good at scooping up the ball and throwing to first base. She has many assists from right field by throwing runners out at first base.”

Just like she does on the base paths, Kroll is confident and aggressive. She said she loves right field despite its stigma.

“I love right field and my coaches always remind me that this is the worst position, but it’s not,” Kroll said with a laugh. “I love when I get a hard ground ball. My mindset goes straight to getting the runner out at first. That has been something we’ve worked on for so long and this season has really come through. I’ve been getting those plays and that’s super fun getting those outs at one that most teams don’t go for.”

After a semester at Liberty College, Kroll plans to enroll at Central Lakes College next spring and play softball for head coach Ray Austin. There’s already buzz around her arrival, but there’s always been a buzz around Kroll’s softball skills.

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“She’s an easy kid to coach because she asks a lot of questions,” Jordan said. “She learns and applies those things to the game. Part of that is her work ethic. She comes to our winter open gyms. She works hard doing skills in the gym. She works on her speed, strength and fitness. We saw a long time ago when she was a sixth-grader coming to our open gyms that she had a ton of energy and we love that. We knew she was the type of kid who has speed and energy and enthusiasm and that’s what we wanted on our team and in our outfield.”

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

Kasia Kroll

Kasia Kroll
Kasia Kroll
Kelly Humphrey

Sport: Softball

Position: Right field

Year: Senior

Age: 17

Height: 5-foot-3

Career highlight: Summer team winning Gold State at the University of Minnesota

Grade-point average: 3.7

Favorite class: Personal finance

Favorite food: Chicken

Favorite TV show: “The Office”

Favorite website or app: Pinterest

Favorite restaurant: The Side Track Bar and Restaurant

Future plans: Attend Liberty University online in the fall. Then Central Lakes College in the spring and will play softball

Favorite athlete: Teammate and fellow outfielder Josie Kappes

Parents: Joe and Julie Kroll

Other notable performances

Olivia Tautges, softball, finished 2-5 with a home run, double and five RBIs and also pitched the victory over Alexandria. Against St. Cloud, she struck out 17 and went 2-3 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs.

Brynne Folden, girls lacrosse, scored five goals against St. Cloud.

Breya Sawyer, girls lacrosse, scored three goals against St. Cloud and tallied five against Rocori.

Ethan DeRosier, boys lacrosse, scored three goals, including the game-winner, against Grand Rapids. He tallied four goals against St. Cloud Apollo and five against Rocori.

Isaac Hanson, baseball, struck out 14 in a one-hit shutout of Willmar.

Hanna Caughey, girls track and field, won the shot put and discus at the Warrior Quad.

Andrew Albright, boys track and field, won the 110-meter hurdles and long jump at the Warrior Quad.

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