Meghan Smith spoke precisely when asked about Brainerd’s defensive effort Thursday, May 20.
“Defense wins games and that’s all I have to say,” the junior third baseman said.
And she was right as the Warriors played errorless defense behind stellar pitching to sweep the Moorhead Spuds 11-2 and 6-0 at Adamson Field in Brainerd.
Olivia Tautges and Mya Tautges combined to allow two runs on nine hits and no walks in Game One. Olivia Tautges struck out 10 in five innings of work for the win. Mya Tautges struck out two in two innings to secure the victory.
In Game Two, Emma Tautes went the distance. She struck out three, walked two and allowed five hits and no runs.
“I always say we should score one run an inning and that’s seven runs in a game and we should win all of those games,” Jordan said. “But defense is so important and it’s great for all three of our pitchers to know that if the ball is put in play we’re going to make the plays behind them. And we do. We play great defense. The kids do a good job by working hard in practice.”
Moorhead suffered through seven errors, including a three-error third inning in Game One, which Brainerd took advantage of as Mya Tautges reached on an error and later scored. Olivia Tautges doubled followed by a two-run single from Emma Tautges. Karle Anderson then reached on an error as did Kasia Kroll.
Zakia Herron then ripped an RBI single to hand Brainerd a 6-0 lead.
The Warriors tacked on five more runs in the sixth.
Mya Tautges led off with a double. Moorhead intentionally walked Olivia Tautges only to have Emma Tautges reach on an error. A fielder’s choice by Karlie Anderson scored one run followed by a Kroll single and a Herron RBI walk. Kate Chaussee then hit a two-run single.
Olivia Tautges finished 3-3 with two doubles and two runs. Mya Tauges went 2-4 with two runs. Emma Tautges drove in three runs and scored twice and seniors Herron and Chaussee each drove in two runs for the Warriors.
“All of our seniors are huge leaders,” Smith said. “There is not one senior who is better than the other. They are all equal leaders, which I think is very important both on and off the field.”
It was senior night for the final regular-season home game for the Warriors. It was also a key section doubleheader. Brainerd improves to 2-1 against section opponents with its final two games against Coon Rapids, a class 4A opponent.
“These wins were really important,” Smith said. “It really helps with the seeding and honestly it really boosts our confidence going into sections. Tonight was a huge confidence booster for us.”
Smith finished 3-4 with an RBI in Game One from her No. 9 position in the Warriors’ lineup. She scored a run and reached base on two Moorhead errors in Game Two.
“I’ve been feeling pretty good at the plate,” Smith said. “We’ve been working on a lot of two-strike hitting in practice every single day. I think all of us are really confident in hitting off of two strikes or any count really.”
Smith is hitting .370 in her first 56 at-bats. She owns a .500 slugging percentage with 16 RBIs and eight runs scored.
“I know she’ll see good pitches,” Jordan said. “In the ninth spot other teams are typically thinking that this isn’t a very good batter, but she’s really good there. One through nine we can hit the ball so it’s all about moving the pieces around because she’s been very successful there this year.
“She’s vastly improved her hitting. She’s done everything we’ve asked her to do to tweak her swing and that's why she’s having success.”
Mya Tautges was 3-3 with two doubles, a walk, two runs and two RBIs in Game Two. Olivia Tautges drove in a run and Emma Tautges drove in two more runs as she was 2-3.
Karlie Anderson finished 2-4 with a run and Herron went 2-4 with a double and an RBI.
When asked how confident her team is heading into the postseason, Smith stayed on point.
“I think all of us are pretty confident,” Smith said. “We’ve been playing together for a while so we’re all pretty solid when it comes to working together.”
Moorhead 2 9 4
Brainerd 11 16 1
WP: Olivia Tautges. LP:Riane Mohagen. 2B: Brd-Kate Chausse, Meghan Smith, Olivia Tautges 2, Mya Tautges.
Brainerd 6 11 0
Moorhead 0 5 3
WP: Emma Tautges. LP: Avery Babolian. 2B: Brd-Mya Tautges 2, Zakia Herron.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Warriors win 2
Key: Errorless defense helps Warriors pick up two section wins
Section: Brd 2-1, M 0-4
Overall: Brd 16-3, M 4-8
Next: Brainerd vs. Coon Rapids at St. Ben’s in Collegeville 2 p.m. Monday, May 24.