Sometimes errors can be like an infectious disease.
Once a player commits a fielding mistake, others seem to follow.
That's exactly what happened to the Brainerd High School softball team Thursday as the Warriors committed eight errors in a 10-4 Central Lakes Conference loss to the Willmar Cardinals.
"We make errors, but not eight errors, and never more than one on one play," said Brainerd coach Janell Westphal, whose team fell to 0-2 in the CLC and 2-2 overall. "We haven't been outside practicing for two weeks. Our defense was strong on Tuesday (in a loss to Sartell) but it took a turn for the worse today.
Brainerd Warriors senior pitcher Alissa Anderson delivered a pitch to Willmar.
"We'll be practicing a little later (Friday)."
Alissa Anderson, the Warriors' starting pitcher, looked good on the mound and her teammates looked solid defensively through the first three innings.
Then Willmar started hitting the ball hard and the errors started to snowball. Two miscues in the fourth inning resulted in Willmar's first run. Three more errors in the fifth inning allowed two more Cardinals to cross the plate.
"It was 0-0 until the fourth and then we started to get our bats on the ball and got it in play," Willmar coach Guy Nelsen said. "We took advantage of a couple big errors."
The Warriors bounced right back with three runs of their own in the fifth inning. Gina Clough picked up a one-out infield single and Lindsey Thompson tried a bunt but the throw to first base was low and allowed Clough to advance to third.
Clough scored on a double steal, Thompson found home plate after leadoff hitter Julie Moran laced a single up the middle, and Moran tied the game after a throwing error on pitcher Jessica Reiman.
But the momentum would be short-lived. The combination of five Willmar hits and three more Brainerd errors resulted in seven Cardinal runs in the sixth inning.
Willmar finished the game with 11 hits and committed only three fielding errors.
"Hitting is definitely a strength of our team," said Nelsen, whose team is 1-1 in the CLC after losing to Rocori, one of the conference favorites. "I thought we fielded the ball real well and ran the bases well. We're not going to dominate with pitching so (the fielders) know they're going to have to pick it up."
Westphal said Willmar is one of the teams to beat in the conference while Brainerd is listed as one of the teams to watch in Class 3A by the Minnesota Fast-pitch Coaches Association.
"They have some really good hitters," Westphal said of Willmar. "After three or four innings they started to hit the ball well, but seven or eight of those runs were unearned.
"You can't beat a good ball team like Willmar if you're going to do that."
Anderson pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed two earned runs on 10 hits. Moran and eighth-grader Megan Arns led the Warriors' offense with two hits apiece.
Willmar 000 127 0 -- 10-11-3
Brainerd 000 030 1 -- 4-6-8
Willmar -- Jessica Reiman and Steph Schirmers; Brainerd -- Alissa Anderson, Cassey Veith (6) and Sacha Holbrook, Jess Ostergren (6). WP -- Reiman. LP -- Anderson. Conference -- W 1-1, B 0-2. Overall -- W 1-1, B 2-2. Next game -- St. Cloud Apollo at Brainerd, 5 p.m. Tuesday.
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