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Warriors Athlete of Week: Warriors’ Tautges taking care of business

Olivia Tautges has the Brainerd Warriors playing well in Section playoffs.

Olivia Tautges
Brainerd Warrior Olivia Tautges rounds third on her way home after hitting a home run during the Section 8-4A Semifinal game against St. Michael-Albertville Tuesday, May 31, 2022, at Adamson Field.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD -- Here’s an opinion that might be hard to argue against.

The College of St. Benedict got the steal of spring signing day when it landed the services of Brainerd Warriors senior Olivia Tautges.

The pitcher, first baseman and shortstop for the unbeaten Warriors will play softball at St. Ben’s next season. But that’s next season, Tautges and her Brainerd teammates still have work to do this season.

In two Section 8-4A playoff victories last week, Tautges threw two complete game shutouts to advance Brainerd to the Winner’s Bracket championship game Tuesday, May 31, in Brainerd against St. Michael-Albertville.

In a 12-0 opening-round blowout of St. Cloud, Tautges struck out seven and didn’t allow a hit. One walk was her only blemish in the circle.

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“This season, in the winter, I practiced a lot with my dad to improve my speed and my movement pitches,” Tautges said. “My rise ball I really improved and my two-seam really curves outward. I really wanted to improve my change up so I can throw it more for a strike to keep batters off-balance. I’ve just been working on tidying up all my pitches.”

At the plate, Tautges went 2-3 with a double, home run, and two RBIs to push Brainerd’s record to 21-0. The home run was Tautges’ 11th of the season, which increased her school record for home runs in a season. The record-breaking home run came against Elk River and was an opposite-field bomb.

“After the Elk River game, Claire Ceynowa, the one who held (the record) before, came up to me and told me that I broke it,” Tautges said. “It was such a perfect moment because the person that I looked up to since I was younger was the one who told me that I broke it. It really made it special for me.”

Tautges said hitting a home run is an adrenaline rush because often times when she hits it she can tell right away.

“Once you see it go over the fence it’s such a relief and then you can run around the bases and it feels awesome,” Tautges said. “It’s the best feeling ever.”

In a 4-0 victory over Rogers in the section semifinals, Tautges struck out six and scattered three hits over seven innings with no walks.

She didn’t get a hit, but walked twice, including one intentionally.

Those intentional walks have increased this year.

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“If I was an opposing coach of course I would pitch to her,” Jordan said with a laugh. “Everyone should just throw it down the middle. Honestly, she’s just a really good hitter and what she’s done this year is hit to all fields. She was primarily a pull hitter and hit to the left a lot. She’s learned to embrace that if teams are going to pitch her outside she’ll take it to the opposite field.

“It’s not all about home runs. I know that’s the big thing everyone looks at, but I’ve seen plenty of swings from her where she is just trying to hit one to the right side to get a base hit because that helps her team. It’s really hard to pitch to her, but I hope everybody does.”

For the season, Tautges is hitting .492 with 31 total hits, including six doubles, one triple and the 11 home runs. She’s driven in 45 RBIs and scored 24 times. Teams have walked her 13 times and she’s only struck out three times. She owns a .570 on-base percentage and a 1.143 slugging percentage.

“When I first started playing varsity, I was kind of timid at the plate,” Tautges said. “As you get older you realize you really have to get after it hard so I changed my swing to adapt to that.

“I have fast hands throughout the zone and I worked to hit balls on the outside. I’ve really improved my game all around the plate instead of just inside. So I just have the mentality that I’m going to go hit the ball as hard as I can.”

In 85 innings pitched, Tautges has 153 strikeouts and just 27 walks. She’s allowed 44 hits and 14 runs for a 0.825 ERA.

“I feel very confident just because I know my defense will make plays behind me,” Tuatges said. “I can just stay loose and try and throw strikes and try and catch batters off guard. I feel very confident so far.”

When Tautges isn’t pitching she flops with her twin sister at first base or her younger sister at shortstop. In her first year on varsity, she played first base. She didn’t start playing shortstop until last year.

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Jordan said Tautges works so hard on softball in the offseason, but doesn’t take anything away from the in-season sports she also plays. Jordan added if you talk to her other coaches they all say she’s the hardest working athlete on their team. It’s likely why she was picked the Brainerd Warriors Female Athlete of the Year despite a tough crop of candidates.

She is a four-sport varsity athlete and five-year softball veteran. Softball became her top sport, however, because of all the time she and her dad spent honing her skills.

“Me and my dad, that’s when we usually bond and do stuff together down at the field,” Tautges said. “Since I was younger, it was always a way to become closer to my dad. Overall, I just love playing with this team and the team atmosphere is awesome.”

That team chemistry is one reason for the Warriors' unbeaten record. That and a ton of talent.

“We play summer ball together and we all know our roles on the team so we work really well together,” Tautges said. “We are always happy for each other’s accomplishments. Whether that’s from a base hit or whatever accomplishment it might be we’re always there to pep it up and make them feel good about it.”

Jordan said nothing is too big for Tautges as a senior captain.

“She knows this is high school athletics and it’s about the relationships,” Jordan said. “The fact that they’ve played together for a long time in the summers and continue to play together for school ball just really resonates that. I know kids have to go play AAU and they have to do their traveling team stuff, but what we see on the field is the product of these kids trusting each other and trusting in the school and community and playing together. They’re showing that can work.”

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

Olivia Tautges

Olivia Tautges
Olivia Tautges.
Kelly Humphrey

Sport: Softball

Position: Pitcher, first base, shortstop

Year: Senior

Age: 18

Height: 6-foot-1

Career highlight: Going 20-0 for the regular season

Other sports: Basketball, swimming

Grade-point average: 3.5

Favorite class: Adventure Challenge

Favorite food: Ice cream

Favorite movie: “Star Wars”

Favorite TV show: “One Tree Hill”

Favorite website or app: Tiktok

Favorite restaurant: Raising Canes

Future plans: Going to College of St. Benedict to play softball

Favorite athlete: Montana Fouts, softball pitcher at the University of Alabama

Parents: Bobby and Peggy Tautges

Other notable performances

Adam Jensen, baseball, struck out three in a complete-game shutout over Buffalo.

Brenna Deason, girls track and field, won the 100- and 200-meter dashes, anchored the winning 4x100 relay and broke a school record to win the pole vault at the Central Lakes Conference meet.

Hanna Caughey, girls track and field, won the shot put and discus at the Central Lakes Conference meet.

Thomas Ruhl, boys track and field, won the 800 run and was part of two first-place relays and the Central Lakes Conference meet.

Andrew Albright, boys track and field, won the shot put, long jump and placed second in the triple jump and 110-meter hurdles at the Central Lakes Conference meet.

Breya Sawyer, girls lacrosse, scored four goals against Hermantown/Proctor.

Brynne Folden, girls lacrosse, scored seven goals against Hermantown/Proctor.

Beck Barber, boys tennis, finished fourth in the Section 7-2A Individual Tournament.

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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