Through nine games, Hannah Kangas was batting .310, the lowest of any Brainerd Warrior starter.
The junior infielder snapped out of a “little funk” Thursday, going 3 for 3 with two RBIs and scored two runs as the Brainerd Warriors romped past the Sartell Sabres 12-0 in a 5-inning Central Lakes Conference game at Adamson Field.
“It felt good to get my confidence back,” Kangas said. “The last couple games were a little shaky. I just wanted to come back and have fun. (Assistant) coach (Dan) Bzdok really helped. He worked with me a lot. It was great, the coaches were supportive, it’s great to be back.”
Kangas cracked a 2-run triple in the first, singled in the second and doubled in the fourth as CLC-leading Brainerd (6-0) put the game out of reach.
“She came out of her little funk,” Warriors head coach Mike Zauhar said. “She was a little funky down in Willmar, but she’s just a gamer. She’s been a 3-year starter for us. We knew she could do it and boy, did she put the bat on the ball today.”
Kangas wasn’t the only one. In all, the Warriors rapped 12 hits, four for extra bases.
“These girls are just hard-workers, I’m so proud to be part of a great team with them,” Kangas said. “We all just work together. It’s so fun. We practice hard, we play hard, we all have each other’s back. It’s just a great feeling to go out there with my team behind me, and me behind them, and just be supportive.”
The offensive outburst backed the one-hit pitching of starter Nikki Anderson and reliever Chelsie Manton.
Anderson struck out seven and walked one in four innings. She threw first-pitch strikes to 10 of the 15 Sabres she faced.
The only hit she allowed was a single to left in the first by Erin Deters, the Sabres’ No. 2 hitter. Sartell managed just three baserunners in all — one was a hit batter, the other on catcher’s interference.
Manton retired all three batters she faced in the fifth, with one strikeout.
Brainerd knew it had quality pitching this season, but the hitting has been a close second.
“I think we kind of came in as an underdog,” Anderson said of her team’s hitting. “A lot of girls have surprised us with some great hits, Nikki DeChaine, Paige Lothert, Sara Wennerstrand, they did amazing. They’re just roping them.”
Kangas’ 2-run triple highlighted Brainerd’s 3-run first.
The Warriors punched in six runs in the second with DeChaine, Anderson and Maria West contributing RBI singles.
RBI doubles by Erica Trafas and Wennerstrand, and West’s sacrifice fly scored Brainerd’s final three runs.
It was an all-around sound effort by Brainerd, ranked fifth in Class 3A. Bailey O’Hotto and Manton each stole two bases and the Warriors’ defense was air-tight.
“We were really sharp,” Zauhar said. “Our pregame was sharp, and we carried it right into the game.
“I thought our running game was just outstanding, we had some kids moving around on the bases. People were hitting the ball, and bunting it. We just took it to them.”
Sartell 000 00 — 0 1 2
Brainerd 360 3x — 12 12 1
Sartell: Avery Seguin and Jessica Davison.
Brainerd: Nikki Anderson, Chelsie Manton (5) and Nikki DeChaine, Sara Wennerstrand (4).
WP: Anderson (9-1). LP: Seguin.
2B: B-Hannah Kangas, Erica Trafas, Wennerstrand
SB: B-Bailey O’Hotto 2, Manton 2
SF: B-Maria West
RBIs: DeChaine, Anderson, Kangas 2, Trafas, Mikaela Chandler, Wennerstrand 2, West 2
LOB: B 6, S 3