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Softball: Warriors hope to build on 2018 success

The Brainerd Warrior softball team is hoping to build on the experience of losing last year's Section 8-4A section championship game in a 4-3 walk-off loss against top-seeded Buffalo. Brainerd missed an opportunity to return to the state tourname...

Clare Ceynowa does fielding drills Wednesday, March 3, during practice at the Brainerd High School field. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
Clare Ceynowa does fielding drills Wednesday, March 3, during practice at the Brainerd High School field. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

 

The Brainerd Warrior softball team is hoping to build on the experience of losing last year's Section 8-4A section championship game in a 4-3 walk-off loss against top-seeded Buffalo.

Brainerd missed an opportunity to return to the state tournament for the first time since 2011. But despite the heartbreaking defeat, the Warriors did build a bond that should benefit this year's squad.

"We were close last year," Brainerd head coach Shane Jordan said of the loss to the four-time defending section champion Bison. "We lost the section final by allowing an unearned run in the seventh inning. But (the playoffs) were a good experience. We traveled to Buffalo and Elk River three times (during the section tournament), and that's how our team came together and became a family. We built strong team chemistry as we fought for and trusted each other. We want to carry that over to this year. If we do that we can play this game at a high level."

The Warriors played at a "high level" last season when they compiled a 19-7 record, captured the Central Lakes Conference title and earned the third seed in the section behind Buffalo and Elk River.

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Softball

  • Head coach: Shane Jordan, fifth year
  • Career coaching record: 70-25 (.737)
  • 2018 records: Central Lakes Conference: 10-2; overall: 19-7
  • Returning letterwinners: Abby Pelowski, Jordyn Sullivan, Jenna Meyer, Clare Ceynowa, Emma Korhonen, Olivia Tautges, Emma Tautges, Kasia Kroll
  • Assistant coaches: Tim Hill, Amy Aho, Angela Jelinski, Jenni Smolke
  • Volunteer coaches: Doc Johnson, Dave Ellingson, Dawn Evans
  • 2019 captains: Abby Pelowski, Jordyn Sullivan, Clare Ceynowa

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"Everyone in our section lost a bit," Jordan said of graduating players. "Buffalo lost four or five players and Elk River lost a pitcher. So I think our section is wide open."

The Warriors did lose talented players up the middle of their defensive lineup. But they do have eight letterwinners to build around - seniors Abby Pelowski, Jordyn Sullivan and Jenna Meyer; juniors Clare Ceynowa and Emma Korhonen; and freshmen Olivia and Emma Tautges and Kasia Kroll.

Brainerd returns the core of their pitching staff. Sullivan struck out 49 hitters with a 3.15 earn-run average in 66 ⅔ innings. Pelowski fanned 19 with a 2.69 ERA in 39 innings. Olivia Tautges had 18 strikeouts and a 3.68 ERA in 18 innings and Emma Tautges had 11 strikeouts and didn't allow a run in seven innings.

"Abby (Pelowski) is a gritty competitor and we look for her to have a great year," Jordan said. "Jordyn (Sullivan) works hard and isn't afraid to get dirty. And Olivia and Emma (Tautges) have improved a lot during the off-season."

Defensively, the Warriors have a roster full of multi-positional players.

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One of the strongest positions is behind the plate with two experienced catchers in Ceynowa, who is committed to play at the University of Minnesota, and Korhonen.

"Clare is a very dedicated and great player," Jordan said. "She will be our main catcher, and move into a leadership role as a captain. Emma (Korhonen) also has varsity experience and Kailey Springer will be our third catcher."

Jordan has flexibility at the infield positions.

"We have a few girls who can play first base, like Addie Sanford and Olivia Tautges," he said. "Olivia Hoelz and Sydney Johnson play second base. Jordyn Sullivan will be our shortstop when she's not pitching and Jenna Hagemann and Zakia Herron play third base, along with Clare (Ceynowa) when she's not catching."

The Warriors also have a variety of options in the outfield.

"Grace Erholtz, Jenna Meyer, Chole Munsch, Karli Anderson, Addie Sanford and Kasia (Kroll) are regulars, plus Emma Tautges is fighting for playing time in our outfield," Jordan said. "Kasia started last year as an eighth grader. She is very fast and can hit for power."

Among the top returning hitters are Ceynowa, who had a team-high seven homers last spring while hitting .410 and driving in 33 runs and scoring 25 times. Korhonen batted .464 with 29 runs, Kroll batted .375 with 14 runs and Meyer .392 with 15 RBI and eight runs.

"We're a very aggressive baserunning team that relies on fundamental defense." Jordan said. "We stress hitting a lot and spend a lot of time in the batting cages. We put the ball in play. Our goal is to work as hard as any other team, so we're not afraid to get dirty."

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Jordan adds that he likes the wide range of grades on his roster.

"Our seniors and leaders can teach the younger girls what Warrior softball is about," he said. "We do have many different ages, but we come together as a team because of the leadership."

As for the Central Lakes Conference, Jordan predicted that Rocori, Willmar and Brainerd should again be the favorites this spring.

 

Warrior roster:

Seniors: Olivia Hoelz, Abby Pelowski, Jordan Sullivan, Kailey Springer, Grace Erholtz, Jenna Meyer

Juniors: Emma Korhonen, Chloe Munsch, Sydnee Johnson, Clare Ceynowa, Addie Sanford, Jenna Hagemann

Sophomores: Karlie Anderson, Zakia Herron

Freshmen: Emma Tautges, Kasia Kroll, Meghan Smith, Olivia Tautges

 

Warrior schedule:

Tuesday, April 9, hosts St. Cloud Tech 4:30 p.m.

April 16, hosts Fergus Falls 5 p.m.

April 22, hosts Bemidji 5 p.m.

April 23, at Moorhead 4 p.m.

April 25, hosts Alexandria 5 p.m.

April 26, at Sauk Rapids-Rice 5 p.m.

April 29, vs. Coon Rapids at College of St. Benedict 2 p.m.

April 30, hosts Sartell (2) 4 p.m.

May 3, at St. Cloud Tech 5 p.m.

May 4, hosts Champlin Park, Cloquet, West Fargo Sheyenne, TBD

May 7, at Willmar (2) 4 p.m.

May 10, at Cold Spring Rocori (2) 4 p.m.

May 14, hosts Buffalo 5 p.m.

May 16, hosts St. Cloud Apollo 5 p.m.

Related Topics: SOFTBALLBRAINERD WARRIORS
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