Hilary Smith couldn't have pitched her third shutout in four games without a few web gems.
The Brainerd Warriors softball team raised its overall record to 4-0 Thursday with a 10-0 six-inning Central Lakes Conference victory over the Sauk Rapids-Rice Storm.
Center fielder Paige Olson furnished the play of the day on a base hit by the Storm's Kate Sponen. With Magan Wurdelman trying to score from second on the hit, Olson fielded the ball and threw a bullet to catcher Abby Rehberger who tagged Wurdelman out.
"Every day in practice that's what we work on, we work on my throws home mostly," Olson said. "I felt real good. I just ran up on it and threw it home right away."
Other web gems were provided by Alison LeBlanc at first base, reaching up to glove two hard line shots; Abby Rehberger, who made a diving grab of a foul pop behind the plate; Chelsey Weiss, who made a running backhanded catch in left; and shortstop Lindsey Jourdan, who dove to her left to snag a ground ball.
"Those are things I think springboarded our offense in the middle innings because up to that point it was a close game," Warriors coach Mike Zauhar said. "It was 2-0, and it could have gone either way.
"(SR-R is) a quality team. We just jumped on them in the middle innings and put them down to the point where they couldn't come back."
Leading 2-0, Brainerd calmed the Storm with four-run fifth and sixth innings.
In the fifth, Smith aided her cause with a three-run triple past a diving center fielder. LeBlanc added a sharp RBI single to center to make it 6-0.
Jourdan delivered a sinking RBI triple to left in the sixth and Smith contributed an RBI single. A throwing error by Storm pitcher Kara Swan on LeBlanc's infield single enabled two more runs to score, ending the game via the 10-run rule.
LeBlanc finished 3-for-4. Rehberger, Jourdan and Smith each added two hits.
"I'm feeling a lot more confident this year," LeBlanc said. "(Assistant) coach (Dan) Bzdok has been working with me a lot so I just go up there thinking I can hit it each time."
Warriors 10, Storm 0
The key: Brainerd made six splendid plays in the field, smacked 12 hits and Hilary Smith pitched a four-hitter.
Conference: SR 1-2, Brd 4-0
Overall: SR 2-3, Brd 4-0
Next: at Detroit Lakes tournament, 9 a.m. Saturday
The Warriors struck for two runs in the first. Jourdan scored on an error and Weiss followed with an RBI single to center.
Smith finished with a four-hitter. She struck out two and walked none. She threw 75 pitches, 53 for strikes. She threw the first pitch for a strike to 15 of the 21 batters she faced.
"Hilary's just got the mindset that she's going to play hard," Zauhar said. "She comes to the park every day looking to do what we need her to do. She has elevated her play to another level."
Sauk Rapids 000 000 -- 0 4 4
Brainerd 200 044 -- 10 12 0
SR-Kara Swan and Steph Thayer. Brd-Hilary Smith and Abby Rehberger. W-Smith. L-Swan.
2B-Brd, Rehberger. 3B-Brd, Smith, Lindsey Jourdan. Sac-SR, Kelsey Larson. RBI-Brd, Jourdan, Smith 4, LeBlanc, Chelsey Weiss. LOB-SR 3, Brd 7. DP-SR 2.
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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