Warriors Athlete of Week: Tautges a gem on the diamond
Mya Tautges and the Brainerd Warriors are off to another strong start to the season.
BRAINERD -- Mya Tautges has some large softball cleats to fill.
The Brainerd sophomore has claimed the role of ace pitcher for the Warriors softball team from her graduated sister Olivia Tautges.
The fireballer is off to a good start as she is 4-0 with a 0.848 ERA. In 49 innings pitched, she’s allowed six runs, four earned, on 26 hits and five walks. She has struck out 43 batters.
“She has surprised me with her control,” Warriors head coach Shane Jordan said. “We knew she had speed, but she’s able to hit spots. In the second half of the Centennial game, we really pounded the ball inside. Ultimately, that helped us win that game and she showed great control there.”
In Brainerd’s 4-3 extra-innings victory over Centennial April 28, Tautges struck out 11 and walked one. She allowed three runs on seven hits over nine innings.
“In the offseason, I was working pretty hard on other pitches and getting consistent on my changeup and even my fastball for location,” Tautges said. “Right now, I’d say I’m pretty comfortable. Most of the teams that we’ve played, like Centennial, were pretty good so that’s given me confidence playing different teams.
We’re just going to be our own team. We’re going to have our own successes.
“I was pretty nervous going up against Centennial because I know one of their coaches and their pitcher because I play summer softball against them.”
Tautges got stronger as the game went on collecting four strikeouts in the two extra innings. She sat down the last nine batters she faced in order.
“The adrenaline was really pumping and it just got me more energized,” Tautges said. “It made me want it more.”
She threw a seven-inning shutout against St. Cloud Crush April 25. She allowed eight hits and one walk and struck out 10. The win came after Brainerd’s first loss in two years.
“She has shown great composure, which is awesome because she’s only a 10th-grader,” Jordan said. “Sometimes we forget that because she’s been around for so long. She started as an eighth grader and she’s a young kid, but she has shown great composure and is growing as an athlete and as a person every game.”
Tautges opened the week with a three-hit shutout against Rocori April 24. She struck out 12 and walked one.
Against Centennial, the left-handed batter helped her own cause by going 2-4 with a triple, run and an RBI.
This season, Tautges moved into the No. 2 spot in the Warriors’ lineup. She is hitting .481 with a .533 on-base percentage and a .889 slugging percentage. In 30 plate appearances, she has 13 hits, which include two doubles, a triple and a home run and three walks. She’s driven in 10 runs and scored 10 times herself.
“She can hit the ball over the fence,” Jordan said. “She can hit it to the gaps, but she’s also surprisingly really good at dropping down bunts or slapping the ball wherever it needs to go. She’s as fast as anybody on our team so she is really dynamic in that No. 2 spot.”
Tautges said she enjoys hitting behind leadoff hitter Josie Kappes. That and having the big bat of Maren Ceynowa behind her makes things fun for her.
“I would say I’ve changed my strategy a little bit,” Tautges said. “I’m doing a little more bunting. So Kappes gets on. She can steal second and then I can bunt her over to third. That’s about it. I have the same mindset as last year.”
Tautges is the prototypical five-tool player in that she also fields well. When she’s not pitching, she’s back to her familiar position of shortstop. Even in the circle, Tuatges’ defense is a plus.
“We’ve always said that the pitcher is the best athlete on our defense and Mya is the epitome of that,” Jordan said. “I think a lot of teams use their pitchers to back up bases. We use our pitcher as a cutoff for plays to all bases. That’s because they catch the ball every time it’s pitched. They play catch more than anybody on the field. Her athleticism is so valuable on the field, whether it’s in the circle or whether it’s at short. She has a great glove and great range and of course, her arm is second to none.”
With few weaknesses to her game, Tautges is focusing on making this year memorable. Whether they can match what last year’s state runner-up team accomplished isn’t a goal. For her, 2022 was last year. Now it’s time for this year’s team to shine.
“At the start of the year, against St. Cloud, losing that game was crushing,” Tautges said. “We’ve had a few team meetings and talked about how we’re not going to be as good as last year. We lost some seniors and last year was just a dream season. We’re not that team again. We’re just going to be our own team. We’re going to have our own successes. We can’t dwell on the past. We just need to think of the present and where we are at right now.”
Tautges is only a sophomore. She’s not a team captain. The softball team has many good senior leaders. But Tautges’ experience in not just softball but her other two sports push her toward a leadership role. While she admits she’s quiet by nature, she also knows if she can set an example she will.
“I just know people and how they react to things,” Tautges said. “Because of my different sports, I just know what to do about stuff. Since I’ve been on a varsity team since I was in eighth grade, people just think I’m older than I am. I enjoy it. I’m not a captain and I don’t lead with my voice, but I lead by example. Even with my other sports, I like getting people motivated because I remember when I was younger and how hard it can be to fit in with the older players on the team, I know what it feels like. I just want everyone to be included.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Position: Pitcher, shortstop
Career highlight: Finishing second in the Class 4A State Softball Tournament
Other sports: Swimming and diving, basketball
Grade-point average: 3.6
Favorite class: Yearbook
Favorite food: Rice
Favorite movie: “Hunger Games”
Favorite TV show: “Outer Banks”
Favorite musician: Taylor Swift
Favorite restaurant: El Tequila Mexican Restaurant
Future plans: Attend college
Favorite athlete: Michael Phelps
Parents: Peggy and Bobby Tautges
Other notable performances
Connor Knight, boys’ lacrosse, finished with four goals against Rocori.
Emily Bastian, girls’ track and field, won the 400-meter dash and was on two winning relays in the Warrior Quad.
Violet Goodwin, girls’ track and field, won the 100- and 300-meter hurdles and was part of a winning relay at the Warrior Quad.
Cora Clough, girls’ track and field, won the 200 dash, high jump and was part of a winning relay at the Warrior Quad.
Brenna Deason, girls track and field, won the 100 dash, pole vault and was part of a winning relay at the Warrior Quad.
Brandon Stark, boys’ track and field, won the 400 and 200 dashes and was part of a winning relay at the Warrior Quad and then broke the 400 dash school record at the Hamline Elite Meet.
Isaak Malay, boys’ track and field, won the 100 dash and was part of two winning relays at the Warrior Quad.
Isaac Hanson, baseball, went 4-4 with three doubles in Game One and went 1-1 with three walks, a double and two runs scored in Game Two against Willmar.
Breya Sawyer, girls’ lacrosse, finished with six goals against Rocori and scored three more against St. Cloud.
Josie Kappes, softball, went 3-3 with four runs and an RBI against Willmar.