Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood
It was hot Friday down at Don Adamson Field in more ways than one.
A pleasant 70-degree temperature matched the heat senior pitcher Hilary Smith was throwing at the Rocori Spartans.
The Brainerd Warrior captain captured her second straight no-hitter by striking out six in seven innings. She walked none and was two errors shy of a perfect game to lead the Warriors softball team to a 6-0 Central Lakes Conference victory.
"We threw mostly fastballs because they couldn't catch them," said Warriors catcher Abby Rehberger. "We just kept coming with it. If one of them did catch it we wanted to throw her a change or a curve, but mostly fastballs. We kind of moved it around high for some of them, but mostly low and outside."
It's the fourth straight victory for the red-hot Warriors (10-4 overall, 7-3 conference) after dropping two one-run games at Willmar. In Brainerd's last four games, Smith has given up just one run and six hits.
Brainerd 6, Rocori 0
Key: Hilary Smith struck out six and pitched a no-hit shutout and was 2-3 with a run and a RBI
Conference: Brd 7-3, 4-4
Overall: Brd 10-4, 7-5
Next game: Brainerd at Sauk Rapids 5 p.m. Tuesday.
In that span Brainerd has outscored opponents 28-1.
"Overall I think this was our best performance of the year," said Warriors coach Mike Zauhar. "These kids just came ready to play. Hilary was pitching extremely well and the defense was sharp."
The Spartans' only threat came in the first inning when leadoff hitter Katie Kramer reached on a throwing error and later made it to third on a stolen base and sacrifice.
But Smith buckled down, striking out Bridget Burtzel and getting Macie Mueller to fly out to right field.
Abby Rehberger opened Brainerd's half of the first inning connecting on a leadoff single. She scored on Paige Olson's fielders choice. Olson later scored on Smith's double.
"I just try to get a hit every time I go up or at least put it in play and make the defense do something with it," said Rehberger. "Any way I can get on base is what they tell me to do. Just get on base.
"Once we get a lead you can tell by Hilary's face that we're going to get them. She has that mindset that this is her job and she's going to do it. You can just tell she's in a zone and she doesn't want to be that person to give up a run."
With the two-run lead, Smith retired 11 straight Rocori batters. A fielding error put Heather Anderson on first in the fifth inning. Smith then forced the next batter to fly out. She then retired the last six batters to secure the win.
Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood
Rehberger finished 2-for-4 with two runs. Her second run came in a three-run fifth.
Again she set the table by reaching on a leadoff single. Lindsey Jourdan and Olson reached after her and all three later scored.
Smith was 2-3 with a run and a RBI. Steph Neugebauer was 2-3 with a triple and a RBI.
"Our four losses that we have I thought we were there and we just didn't catch a break," said Zauhar. "You lose four, but they're all in extra innings and they're all by one. I knew then we were somewhat snakebit. But the kids just believed in their abilities and hung in there and are proving now they can play some ball at the right time of year."
Rocori 000 000 0 -- 0 0 6
Brainerd 200 130 X -- 6 8 2
Rocori -- Bridget Burtzel, Nikki Schramel (4) and Kari Schroeder. Brainerd -- Hilary Smith and Abby Rehberger. W -- Smith. L -- Burtzel. 2B -- Brd-Smith 3B -- Brd-Steph Neugebauer. SB -- Brd-Paige Olson, R-Katie Kramer. Sac -- Brd-Lindsey Jourdan, Alison LeBlanc, R-Tasha Schlangen. RBI -- Brd-Olson, Smith, LeBlanc, Neugebauer. LOB -- Brd 6, R 2. DP -- R 2.
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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