With the mound located just 40 feet from home plate if a fast-pitch softball team has a dominant pitcher its chances of success are considerable.
Brainerd has an up and coming pitcher in freshman Karli Manton who twirled two gems Friday as the Warriors swept a Section 8-3A doubleheader from the Moorhead Spuds.
The Warriors won the opener 10-0 as Manton struck out eight, walked none and gave up just three hits. She threw strike one to 12 of 18 Spuds.
She wasn't as dominant in a 10-1 victory in Game Two but pitched six solid innings, walking one, allowing four hits and one earned run and struck out three. She threw strike one to 15 of 17 batters.
Brainerd Warriors second baseman Kristi Ericksen (left) and first baseman Karlye Barron celebrated after Ericksen scored a run in a game this spring. Softball is just one of many Warrior teams flourishing in an unpredictable spring. Brainerd Dispatch/ Clint Wood» Purchase reprints of this photo.
"I got a little tired but I think it was just they got on to me," Manton said of the second game. "Sometimes you just get tired."
Manton raised her record to 13-1 and allowed just one earned run all day. She has pitched 94-plus innings with 71 strikeouts.
"She's been throwing real well," Warriors coach Mike Zauhar said. "She's getting the mental aspect of the game down now. She doesn't get down when weird things happen, base hits, walks, whatever.
"I think she's feeling more comfortable with our team. She's doing a nice job. She's growing each week so we're pleased with that."
Senior shortstop Steph Neugebauer said Manton has been a welcome addition.
"Moving from California, coming in and playing with nobody she knows, it's outstanding how she's been pitching," Neugebauer said. "All of us took her under our wings. We've made her feel as comfortable as possible and we've got to keep going with that."
Manton, who throws six pitches, benefited from a number of nice defensive plays. In the opener Steph Lambrecht dove to her left to snare a ground ball. Outfielder Kayla Huether dove to grab a sinking fly ball to left.
Warriors 10-10, Moorhead 0-1
The key: Karli Manton picked up two victories and Brainerd cracked 16 hits.
Overall: Brd 14-1
Next: Rocori at Brainerd 5 p.m. Monday.
In the second game Tika Klauck made a diving catch in center. Neugebauer dove to her left to snag a ground ball and while sitting threw to third base to record a putout.
"Kristi Ericksen had a wonderful day on the defensive end (at second base)," Zauhar said. "Doubleheaders are tough and Moorhead is down. For us to keep our intensity through two games I thought that was good."
Neugebauer finished the day 5-for-6 with three runs, a triple and three RBIs, raising her average to .554. She has hit in all 15 games.
"I go up there with confidence," she said. "Striking out I don't want that to be in my vocabulary. Outs made in the field, that's fine, but I don't want to strike out."
Manton struck out six of the first 11 Spuds she faced.
Anna Tadych struck the big hit, a three-run triple that put Brainerd ahead 8-0.
Hallsey Olson had two of the Warriors' six hits.
Moorhead 000 00 - 0 3 2
Brainerd 370 0x - 10 6 1
Moor: Lauren Nephew and Shilow Grywacheski.
Brd: Karlie Manton and Emily Brink.
W: Manton (12-1). L: Nephew.
Karli Manton earned the win in both games.
3B: Brd-Anna Tadych.
SB: Brd-Hallsey Olson 2, Kayla Huether; Moor-Sabrina Sam, Ali Hagen, Nephew.
Sac: Brd-Brink; Moor-Nephew.
RBIs: Brd-Huether, Steph Neugebauer, Karlye Barron, Tika Klauck, Anna Tadych 3.
LOB: Brd 1, Moor 5.
Neugebauer was 4-for-4 with an RBI single and run-scoring triple. Huether added two hits.
The only Moorhead run scored on an RBI triple by catcher Shilow Grywacheski, who was 3-5 on the day.
Moorhead 001 000 0 - 1 4 3
Brainerd 300 214 x - 10 10 0
Moorhead: Steph Johnson, Nephew (5) and Grywacheski.
Brd: Karli Manton, Chelsie Manton (7) and Brink.
W: Karli Manton (13-1). L: Johnson.
SB: Brd-Olson, Huether, Neugebauer, Klauck, Kristi Ericksen 2.
RBIs: Brd-Neugebauer 2, Olson, Jenni Smolke, Brink.
LOB: Brd 9, Moor 5
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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