Softball: Warriors rally to win opener 12-9
Warriors 12, Alexandria 9 The key: A 9-run third inning sparked Brainerd to victory. Conference: Brd 1-0, A 0-1 Overall: Brd 1-0, A 0-1 Next: Rocori at Brainerd 4 p.m. Monday (2). After practicing for five weeks, the Brainerd Warriors and Alexand...
The key: A 9-run third inning sparked Brainerd to victory.
Conference: Brd 1-0, A 0-1
Overall: Brd 1-0, A 0-1
Next: Rocori at Brainerd 4 p.m. Monday (2).
After practicing for five weeks, the Brainerd Warriors and Alexandria Cardinals finally got a chance to play a game Thursday and both teams were less than sharp-as can be expected for a season opener.
Following a shaky first three innings, during which the teams combined to score 17 runs, they settled down despite a stiff 20 mph wind blowing toward home plate. Trailing 6-2, the Warriors rallied for a 12-9 victory at Adamson Field.
The Cardinals seized a 2-0 lead in the first, Brainerd tied it 2-2 in the bottom half. Alexandria erupted for four runs in the second. The 6-2 score stood until the Warriors hung up nine runs in the third and never looked back.
"There were a lot of learning experiences-I'll call them-in the first game here, defensively especially," Warriors coach Shane Jordan said. "I thought despite the wind we hit the ball really well. We hit the ball hard a lot. We had a few pop-ups, but a few were wind-aided. Defensively, I thought we got better as the game went on which makes me feel good about things.
"It was good to get that first one out of the way and get a win against a great team-the defending conference champion and a 2-point game-so that's huge."
Brainerd catcher Elaina Christiansen and her teammates were antsy to play a game.
"I've been waiting all this time, since winter," Christiansen said. "Softball is my game. I play hockey, but softball is my life right now. I've been waiting a long time."
Right fielder Kylie Lange and Christiansen spurred Brainerd at the plate. Lange finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs and Christiansen 2-for-4 and three RBIs. Lange was the team's leading hitter a year ago with a .444 mark.
"I'm not surprised they each drove in three runs because we have pretty high expectations for them at the plate, as we do for all our girls," Jordan said. "One through nine I think they can all have high batting averages. On any day, we can have 3-4-5 RBIs from any spot in the lineup.
"Our expectations for everyone are really high. I think their expectations for themselves are real high as well."
Christiansen was the team's second-leading hitter last season at .414.
"I always feel like I can do a little better," she said, "but I thought I did pretty good. I would like to get some out to the green next time."
Junior right-hander Jillian Ewald pitched a complete game. She started slowly before cruising through the Cardinals' lineup the last three innings-she allowed just one run during that stretch. She threw 94 pitches and allowed 13 hits with four strikeouts, but walked none.
"Jillian pitched tremendously down the stretch," Jordan said. "She started to find the strike zone a little better. Elaina did a nice job telling us what the umpire was giving us. Jillian's strength is hitting her spots. When she hits her spots, she's really tough.
"Maren Hadrits didn't pitch tonight, but she was a (star) in the dugout, taking signs, talking about Jillian and what she was doing good, what she was struggling with. For a senior not to get in the game as a pitcher, I was really proud of her leadership in the dugout."
After Alexandria scored twice in the top of the first on a pair of RBI fielder's choices, Lexi Roby doubled and scored on Christiansen's single. Lange followed with a base hit that plated Christiansen.
Brainerd's 9-run explosion included two RBI singles by Lange, 2-run singles by Christiansen and Jayda Johnson and run-scoring hits by Brooke Mimmack and Maddy Stall, who added an RBI double in the fourth.
Alexandria's Allison O'Kane finished 4-for-4 and teammate Ellie Ronning was 3-for-4 with two RBI singles. Amy Jost collected two hits and three RBIs.
Alexandria 240 201 0- 9 13 1
Brainerd 209 100 x-12 12 1
Alexandria: Caley Haugen, McKenna Ellingson (3), Emma Ziegler (6) and McKenzie Revering, Kelsea Navratil (6).
Brainerd: Jillian Ewald and Elaine Christiansen.
2B: Brd-Lexi Roby, Maddy Stall; A-Allison O'Kane 2
RBIs: Brd-Christiansen 3, Kylie Lange 3, Maddy Stall 2, Jayda Johnson 2, Brooke Mimmack, Roby.
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .