While her unique nickname didn’t follow her north, Elaina Christiansen’s stellar play on the softball field did.
The Bemidji State University Beaver concluded her sophomore season by batting .375 with 24 hits, seven doubles, a triple and five home runs. She scored 24 times and drove in 16 runs. She walked 10 times and stole 10 bases and finished with a .750 slugging percentage and a team-high .481 on-base percentage.
That was before the NCAA shutdown all spring sports just as BSU was getting hot.
BSU finished the 2020 season with a 10-12 record, but had won its last two games heading into the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference schedule. The team was in Winter Haven, Fla., when news of the season ending was announced because of COVID-19.
“It was going pretty well,” Christiansen said. “We had a young team this year so it was kind of a new start for all of us. It went pretty well in Florida, but overall, it was a good season for what we had.”
Christiansen said the team got a notification that play was suspended until April 1 the day before BSU played its last game. When the team returned from Florida it was announced the season was canceled.
“We had two seniors and so it was kind of hard to realize that that was their last game,” Christiansen said. “Even though they both played super well, it was just kind of hard for all of us to realize that this is actually happening. This was our last game so it really puts that one quote that says ‘play every game like it’s your last’ into perspective because it truly was. It was heartbreaking for all of us.”
On the BSU roster, Christiansen is listed as a catcher and outfielder, but she played centerfield the entire season.
“For a catcher, you’re involved in every single play so you’re in the action all the time,” Christiansen said. “In centerfield, you have to keep your focus because you never know when you’re going to get the ball. You try to keep yourself involved by talking to your other outfielders, talking to your pitcher and making sure they know you have their back. You just need to stay involved in your own way. You’re always just on your feet.”
As a freshman last season, Christiansen earned Easton/NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete honors. She appeared in 52 games with 50 starts and finished fourth on the team with a .313 batting average. In 163 at-bats, she finished with 39 runs, 51 hits, 27 RBIs, six doubles, two triples and six home runs. She walked 11 times and stole 11 bases.
“I was just focusing on my game and focusing on having fun playing the game that I love,” Christiansen said. “I’ve noticed that if I focus on doing the best that I can and putting all that pressure on myself I don’t do as well. So I just focus on having fun and playing my game.”
For now, Christiansen is back home and with her family trying to find fun. She’s getting her school work done and coping with not playing softball.
“I’m mostly focused on my fitness. I’m in the weight room almost three to four days a week and then I usually go to the softball field every day,” Christiansen said. “That’s always just been my place to go. It’s not hard for me to just go to the field and hit a couple of balls or anything. That’s just where I go.”
As a Brainerd Warrior, Christiansen lettered four times and was the team’s Most Valuable Player in 2018. She was the team’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 and 17 and earned All-Section 8-3A honors in both of those seasons.
While a Warrior, Christiansen was nicknamed “Bootsie” which started when she was around eight years old during the hockey season. However, that changed when she became a Beaver. Now she’s “E.”
“There’s a few players that call me Bootsie, but E is sticking,” Christiansen said. “I talk to almost all my teammates almost every day. This year we’ve gotten a lot closer, especially after the situation. We’ve become really close.”
Former Central Lakes College and Staples-Motley standout Lisa Kossan is also on the BSU roster. The junior infielder hit .333 in 51 at-bats in 17 games. She collected 17 hits, 10 runs and seven RBIs. Of her 17 hits, five were doubles with one home run. She walked five times and stole three bases.
Other former area female athletes at BSU
Staples-Motley’s Claire Wolhowe played basketball. She finished her sophomore season by averaging 7.9 points and 3.5 rebounds in 27 games. She shot .44% from the field, .47% from 3-point and .86% from the line. She added 21 assists, 10 blocked shots and 15 steals.
Brainerd’s Cheyenne Abear played hockey. She played in 14 of the Beavers’ 37 games.
Brainerd’s Allyson Smith is on the soccer roster. She sat out the 2019 season. In her first two seasons, Smith played in 36 games and tallied 19 goals, 16 assists on 68 shots on goal.
Brainerd’s Brooke Mimmack is playing tennis. Mimmack will be a captain on BSU’s 2020 team. Last fall she landed on the NSIC All-Conference all-doubles team. She was 9-6 overall and 4-5 in conference competitions. Mimmack and her doubles partner finished 6-6 at No. 2 doubles.
School: Bemidji State University
High school: Brainerd
Parents: Marty and Teresa Christiansen
Major: Elementary Education