Tiffany Dixon just knows how to play.
She can thank her dad, Bob Dixon, and her brother, Travis, as she tagged along to play catch in the backyard.
Dixon, who also played volleyball and basketball at Pillager, said softball is her favorite sport. She plans on playing next season for the Central Lakes College Raiders.
If she plays anything like she did this season for the Huskies, CLC should have another successful season.
The senior hit .484 with 30 hits, 21 RBIs, four home runs, three triples, six doubles and 14 runs to help Pillager to a 7-11 record. That's 11 more wins than the Huskies collected last year.
"Our team played well together last year, but we had three or four eighth-graders on our varsity team," said Dixon. "Since we had a year of playing with each other last year I had a good feeling we could pull out some wins.
Key stat: Went 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, four RBIs and three runs scored against Sebeka
"When our bats were on, our bats were on. We were a hitting machine. The games that we won we hit the ball well, had less errors and played more as a team."
Dixon was the spark plug of that team and because of it was named the most valuable player in the Park Region Conference. She was also selected to the All-Section 6-1A team.
Dixon finished 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, four RBIs and three runs scored against Sebeka in the subsection playoffs May 21. She added two hits against Menahga.
She was 4-5 with a double, triple and six RBIs and five runs scored against Bertha-Hewitt and was 4-5 with a double, home run, three runs and five RBIs against Sebeka.
"Whatever the game is she just understands sports," said Pillager softball coach Shannon Hunstad. "Whether it is running bases or anticipating a steal in basketball, she just understands sports and has that knowledge of the game. That's her strength. She just loves watching and playing and being in sports."
Dixon said she's been playing softball since she was eight. Her weekends were spent tossing the ball with her dad and brother. She said she would hit 100 balls a day during the summer. She played on three slow-pitch softball teams during the summer and played league softball since she was nine.
She estimated that she played 100 games during her summers, not to mention playing in nationals with the Brainerd Explosion softball team.
"I've played so much softball, and my dad plays, and my brother played baseball for so long that I just have a passion for it," said Dixon. "I know so much about it. That's how I learned to play."
Dixon's knowledge of the game helped her make the transition from shortstop to catcher quicker than most. She was reluctant at first to make the move, but now she wouldn't want to play any other position.
"I could have put her anywhere because she has a great glove, but since catcher is so important in fast-pitch we put her there," said Hunstad. "She was the most valuable player on the team with her glove. She blocked the plate well and really improved throwing out runners. Last year we didn't throw anyone out. This year she threw out seven."
Other notable performances:
Golf: Melissa Welshons, Aitkin, shot 81 for medalist at the Subsection 7-1A meet.
Hailey Roberts, Staples-Motley, shot 84 for medalist at the Subsection 6-1A meet.
Softball: Alicia Johnson, Verndale, hit a home run and double and had four RBIs against Laporte.
Olivia Baumann, Pequot Lakes, struck out eight, walked none and allowed no earned runs in a complete-game victory against Crosby-Ironton.
Track and field: Kaari Jensen, Pierz, won the long jump, 100- and 300-meter hurdles and 200 dash at the Subsection 5-1A meet.
Nikki Pearson, Staples-Motley, won the 100 and 300 hurdles and was on the winning 4x400 relay in the Subsection 3, Section 6-1A meet.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.