A sophomore stole the spotlight on senior recognition day.
Left fielder Paige Olson continued her torrid hitting Tuesday as she sparked the Brainerd Warriors to a 3-1 victory over the St. Cloud Tech Tigers in Central Lakes Conference softball Tuesday.
Olson went 2-for-3 with a triple, a double and scored two runs. In her last four games she is 9-14 with nine runs scored, three triples, four RBI, a home run and a double.
She raised her average to .341 with seven extra-base hits.
"I am much more relaxed at bat, much more relaxed," Olson said of her recent streak. "(Assistant) coach (Dan) Bzdok has been helping me a lot, helping me stay focused, not getting down on myself. I was really struggling at the beginning of the season. Now things are kind of turning around, and everything is coming together."
Olson also made a diving catch in the top of the sixth to rob Tech's Steph Bastin of a hit. After playing third base for part of the season Olson has been moved to left, where she is more comfortable.
"I'm not afraid to dive after those balls and call people off anymore," she said.
Of her catch Tuesday, Olson said, "It looked a little shallow, and I thought it might be a one-bouncer, and I would throw it into (shortstop Lindsey) Jourdan. I dove for it and it wasn't as far in front of me as I thought."
Warriors 3, St. Cloud Tech 1
Hot bat: Paige Olson is batting .341 with seven extra-base hits on the season.
Next: at Sauk Rapids, 4 p.m. Thursday
Seniors Kelsey Anderson, Megan Arns, Haley Bower, Kelli Jensen, Emily Jones, Erin Holznagel and Ashley Widmark made their final regular-season home game memorable.
"This is the best group of seniors I've ever had, basketball or softball," Zauhar said. "They're incredible people, they have incredible attitudes, and their skill level is very high. That's why all five are captains. They all bring something a little different to the team."
Arns fired a four-hitter, gave up one earned run, struck out three and walked one.
She shut the Tigers out for five innings. In the sixth Tech scored its only run when Brittney Schramel reached on a one-out infield hit. She was bunted to second and scored on two wild pitches.
Arns, Widmark and Holznagel collected hits as Brainerd improved to 11-2 in conference play, 15-3 overall. The Warriors trail Willmar (11-1) by one-half game. The Cardinals edged Rocori 5-4 Tuesday.
Brainerd is at Sauk Rapids on Thursday and ends the regular season Friday at Bemidji.
"It's a big game because Sauk Rapids is a pretty good team," Zauhar said. "Bemidji is undefeated. They're three seeding points ahead of us at this point.
"I think we're looking at either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. That would mean two home games here next Tuesday and Thursday."
Brainerd went ahead 3-0 in the fourth as Olson drilled a leadoff double to left, advanced to third on a groundout and scored when Holznagel's wicked line drive glanced off pitcher Nikki Schramel. Holznagel advanced on two wild pitches and scored on Abby Rehberger's groundout.
The Warriors opened the scoring in the second as Olson tripled to right and came home on an error.
St. Cloud Tech 000 001 0 -- 1 4 2
Brainerd 010 200 x -- 3 5 1
Tech-Nikki Schramel and Brittney Schramel. Brd-Megan Arns and Erin Holznagel. W-Arns (10-3). L-N.Schramel.
2B-Brd-Paige Olson. 3B-Brd-Olson. Sac-SCT-Taylor Henkel; Brd-Holznagel. RBI-Brd-Holznagel, , Abby Rehberger. LOB-SCT 5, Brd 6. DP-SCT 1.
Conference-SCT 5-7, Brd 11-2. Overall-SCT 7-9, Brd 15-3.
Mike Bialka can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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