It's not the ideal way the Brainerd Warriors wanted to head into the North Subsection 8-3A softball playoffs.
A Bemidji Lumberjacks' eight-run fourth inning led an 11-8 non-conference victory over the Warriors Friday at Adamson Field in Brainerd. The loss, just the second of the season, snapped the Warriors' 12-game win streak.
While disappointed with finishing the regular season with a loss, most of the Warriors and head coach Mike Zauhar appeared upbeat afterward.
"They're allowed one bad game a year, I guess," said Warriors coach Mike Zauhar. "Hopefully we got it out of our system. The thing I'm most pleased about is how they competed the entire game, even down 10-0. We had a shot to win it at the end."
Bemidji 11, Warriors 8
Key: An eight-run fourth inning by Bemidji was too much for the Warriors to overcome
Overall: Brd 18-2, Bem 16-3
Next game: No. 1 seeded Brainerd vs. No. 4 seed in North Subsection 8-3A playoffs Thursday
Bemidji's big inning put Brainerd behind 10-0 and all but ended the game.
In the bottom of the fourth, Tika Klauck led off with a single, followed by a Kelsey Kunde single, a Steph Lambrecht walk and a Kayla Huether two-run double.
After Bridget Badger walked to load the bases, Steph Neugebauer laced a two-run single and later scored on a Calliegh Johnson RBI single for a 10-6 score.
Kunde relieved starting pitcher Ashley Olson and allowed one walk, which led to a run. She also gave up a hit, but struck out three in 3 2/3 innings.
Kayla Huether had two RBIs
"That's the beauty of having two outstanding pitchers," said Zauhar. "That's the first bad game I've seen Ashley Olson throw in two years and thank goodness we had Kunde right there. That's going to be our 1-2 punch through the tournament."
The Warriors picked up two more runs in the sixth. Catcher Emily Brink led off the inning with a bunt single. Badger was hit by the next pitch and both runners advanced on a wild pitch.
Brink scored on another wild pitch and Badger scored on a Neugebauer ground out to cut Bemdji's lead to three.
In the bottom of the seventh, Lambrecht walked and Huether singled, placing the tying run at the plate. But a Brink pop up ended the threat and the game.
"One of our strengths is defense," said Lumberjack head coach Brad Takkunen. "Brainerd is going to hit the ball and score some runs, that's what they do, but I wasn't too concerned about it. I thought that with the cushion we had that ultimately we would win and that's what happened."
Calliegh Johnson had two doubles
Huether finished 2-for-4 with a run, double and two RBIs. Johnson was 3-4 with two doubles and a RBI.
The last time the Warriors lost was a 3-0 defeat to Bemidji in the championship game of the Detroit Lakes tournament April 21.
"I think our confidence will remain sky high and it's our job as coaches to keep it there," said Zauhar. "When you go 18-2, win the (Central Lakes) conference, go undefeated in the conference, set program records for wins, those are all positives and we'll take that with us into the playoffs."
Despite the two losses to Bemidji, Brainerd still earned the No. 1 seed in the North Subsection. Bemidji is the No. 2 seed.
"There's always the third-time curse that people talk about," said Takkunen, "but anytime you can come into a team that's 18-1 and on their field and you beat them pretty soundly, you feel good about that."
Bemidji 200 810 0 - 11 10 0
Brainerd 000 602 0 - 8 9 5
Bemidji: Justin Ossman and Amber Crunden. Brainerd: Ashley Olson, Kelsey Kunde (4) and Emily Brink. W: Ossman. L: Olson.
2B: Brd-Calliegh Johnson (2), Kayla Huether; Bem-Kaia Sele. 3B: Bem-Alice Story. RBI: Brd-Steph Neugebauer (3), Huether (2), Johnson; Bem-Story (3), Nicole Stevens (2), Amy Boyer, Rachel Barckholtz, Crunden. LOB: Brd 7, Bem 3. DP: Brd 1.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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