Pitching and defense reigned supreme for Brainerd Tuesday, June 8.
In 14 innings, the Warriors allowed no runs to win two games in the Section 8-4A loser’s bracket at Adamson Field.
Emma Tautges threw seven shutout innings in a 6-0 win against Buffalo. Her performance in the circle was followed by Olivia Tautges who struck out seven in seven scoreless innings as Brainerd beat St. Michael-Albertville 1-0 to advance.
“Today we played exceptional softball,” Warriors head coach Shane Jordan said. “A 6-0 game and a 1-0 game against two pretty good programs. Both those teams have been to the state tournament in our section. These are big wins for our kids.”
Olivia Tautges struck out the side at the top of the seventh against STMA to get the final outs of Brainerd’s one-run victory.
“I just wanted to go at them and get ahead,” Olivia Tautges said. “I was able to throw my rise ball and change-up, so they could either pop it out or get another strikeout like I did.”
What calmed Olivia Tautges and gave her confidence heading into the seventh inning was in the bottom of sixth she ripped a frozen rope single to lead off the inning.
“It took a weight off my shoulders and gave me confidence in what I can do in this game,” she said.
Against Buffalo, Emma Tautges wasn’t as overpowering and tallied just one strikeout. Instead, she pitched to contact and induced nine groundouts.
“Her strength is hitting spots,” Jordan said. “She’s not going to throw 70 MPH and blow it by hitters, but she hits her spots. Today, we played great defense and took care of the ball. It’s pretty cool when your pitchers can be in the circle and have confidence to hit their spot and if they hit it in play the defense is going to have their back to get them out.”
Emma Tautges said her gameplan coming in against Buffalo was to pitch inside and low to induce weak contact.
“I just had to trust in that process,” Emma Tautges said. “And even if it didn’t result in a lot of strikeouts, it did result in a lot less pitches for me, so I can keep on hitting my spots.”
The Bison nearly scratched a run across in the third. With a runner on second and two outs, Buffalo leadoff hitter Madi Peterson ripped a base hit to Brainerd right fielder Kasia Kroll.
Kroll threw to cutoff Olivia Tautges who threw home in time to get the runner coming from second to keep the score 2-0 and end the inning.
“Our infield really had a good day,” Emma Tautges said. “They didn’t miss any plays at all.”
Emma Tautges also got Brainerd on the board in the third inning against Buffalo with a two-run single. The Warriors added one in the fourth on a Mya Tautges single that scored Josie Kappes and scored three in the sixth for insurance.
Karlie Anderson ripped a double for an RBI and Kroll tallied an RBI as well in the three-run sixth for Brainerd.
STMA was coming off a 6-2 win over Moorhead at Central Lakes College while Brainerd was playing Buffalo.
The only run Brainerd needed against STMA came in the bottom of the first. Kappes walked and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mya Tautges. With two outs, Emma Tautges hit a single that drove in Kappes on a close play.
“That’s what you want from your leadoff hitter,” Jordan said. “Get on base, see a lot of pitches, get her over to second with either a steal or bunt and then have one of your boppers hit her in.”
The Knights’ biggest threat came in the sixth inning when a mini two-out rally put runners on the corners. STMA’s cleanup hitter Khendal Johnson grounded out to short to end the threat.
Olivia Tautges allowed just three hits and five base runners total.
“I was proud,” Emma Tautges said. “It’s not easy to pitch with a 1-0 score, because you know that if you mess up then the game could be over, but she did a good job with the pressure and our infield made pretty good plays again.”
Meghan Smith had the lone extra-base hit with a double in the fifth inning for the Warriors.
Brainerd advances to play Elk River at Rogers High School 11 a.m. Thursday, June 10. Brainerd lost to Elk River 9-0 May 7.
If the Warriors were to beat Elk River they would play Rogers in the Section 8-4A championship game needing to beat them twice to get to state.
Rogers put Brainerd in the loser’s bracket June 3 when they beat the Warriors 3-0.
“We’ve talked all year about just making good contact,” Jordan said. “Putting the ball in play, so they have to throw it and catch it to get you out. We are going to try to limit our strikeouts and put the ball in play and go from there.”
Buffalo 0 7 2
Brainerd 6 15 1
WP: Emma Tautges. LP: Taylor Pawelk. 2B: Brd-Karlie Anderson.
STMA 0 3 0
Brainerd 1 5 0
WP: Olivia Tautges. LP: Ella Luoto. 2B: Brd-Meghan Smith.
Key: Pitching and defense gets Brainerd two shutouts in Section 8-4A loser’s bracket.
Overall: Brd 20-4.
Next: Brainerd vs Elk River at Rogers 11 a.m. Thursday, June 10.
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.