Following two rain delays the Brainerd Warriors softball team probably wishes its game Tuesday against the Alexandria Cardinals was postponed.
The Warriors weren't at their best, committing five errors that led to six unearned runs and an 11-2 Central Lakes Conference loss at Adamson Field.
Alexandria led just 1-0 when the game was delayed by pounding rain in the third inning. Play was again stopped in the fourth, during which the Cardinals returned to score five runs on five hits. Alexandria added a run in the fifth, three in the sixth and one in the seventh, all of which were unearned as the Warriors committed an error in each inning.
"For us to be successful we need to catch the ball and throw the ball correctly and we just did not do that," Warriors coach Mike Zauhar said. "It was a real disappointment. I thought we would have a nice effort today but we did not."
Brainerd Warriors third baseman Jessie Pohlkamp threw a runner out at first base in Tuesday's game.
The Cardinals, who lost just 2-1 to Brainerd April 19 on their home field, won for only the seventh time in 19 games. Eleven Cardinal hits compounded Brainerd's defensive difficulties.
Left fielder Nicole Rettig led Alexandria at the plate, going 3-for-4, with a triple in the fifth and RBI single in the sixth, and scored two runs. Shortstop Amber Malvin was 2-for-3 with a run-scoring single in the fourth. Leah Lemkuhl, who plays third base, smacked a three-run double in the sixth.
"That's the best we've hit the ball all year by far," Alexandria coach Orin Schueler said. "We've been close. Of those 12 losses, 10 have been by one or two runs, four were in extra innings. That's been kind of the problem for us. Today, we stood in there and hit the ball. We do a lot of hitting drills. Maybe we're coming around at the right time.
"We were fortunate. The ball got through a couple times. It usually doesn't on (Brainerd). They played a good defensive game at our place."
Brainerd Warriors first baseman Heather Jacobson smiled at a teammate in the dugout as the rain began to fall in Tuesday's game against Alexandria. The game was delayed twice by rain. (Dispatch Photo by Clint Wood)
Alexandria's defense also labored Tuesday, committing four errors that caused both Warrior runs to be unearned. Cardinals pitcher Chanda Cunniff withstood the defensive lapses to limit Brainerd to four hits. Among them were a leadoff bunt single by Lindsey Thompson, who made a spectacular diving catch in center field in the third, a third-inning single by Melynda Ringstrom, a fourth-inning single by Alyssa Anderson and a pinch double in the fifth by Sarah Johnson.
Cunniff finished with three strikeouts and just two walks. She was nearly untouchable in the last six innings, allowing one Brainerd runner beyond second base. Cunniff also retired the last six Warriors in order.
"Our pitcher was all-conference last year," Schueler said. "She has pitched real well. Her ERA is down at 1.00. We don't get any runs for her. She has to pitch a perfect game almost."
Ringstrom took the loss despite pitching respectably. She struck out one and walked just one.
"Melynda continues to pitch well, and so does Laura Clemens," Zauhar said. "I feel bad for Melynda, when the defense goes south on us like that. I have also seen this team play very good defense for the majority of the season. We need to get back into that groove. We have Rocori coming in Thursday. I know we're a better team than what we showed tonight."
Alexandria 100 513 1 -- 11 11 4
Brainerd 100 010 0 -- 2 4 5
Alexandria -- Chanda Cunniff and Sarah Lanigan; Brainerd -- Melynda Ringstrom and Sacha Holbrook. W -- Cunniff. L -- Ringstrom.
2B -- A, Ashley Staples, Leah Lehmkuhl, Angie Elbert; B, Sarah Johnson. 3B -- A, Nicole Rettig. SB -- A, Amber Malvin; B, Lindsey Thompson. Sac -- A, Malvin; B, Thompson. RBI -- A, Nancy Mulder, Malvin, Lehmkuhl 3, Rettig, Laura Johnson.
Conference -- A 3-10, B 7-6. Overall -- A 7-12, B 9-8. Next game -- Rocori at Brainerd 5 p.m. Thursday.
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