The biggest surprise in the Florida Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks World Series Championships was how fast they got there.
In only its fourth season of existence, Arizona won the 2001 World Series. It took the Florida Marlins just five years.
The Brainerd Explosion hopes three years is all they'll need to win a national title.
Created in 2001, this 14-under Junior Olympic slow-pitch softball team is headed to the United States Specialty Sports Association World Series in Moore, Okla. July 24-27.
The 12 player team is currently 17-2 with a first-place finish at the Minnesota Sports Federation national qualifier June 14-15 and a second-place finish at the USSSA State tournament in Andover July 12.
No stranger to success, the Explosion finished second in the 2001 MSF state summer tournament. In the fall tournament, Brainerd won the title.
Last year, the team swept the state tournaments and finished 13-7.
Playing in the Brainerd Park and Recreation's Monday Night Women's League, Brainerd stands at 11-0.
Leading the charge is Tiffany Dixon whose .717 on-base percentage leads the team. The short stop also leads the team with 46 RBI.
Second baseman, Steph Neugebauer leads the team with 40 runs and is second with 42 RBI. She has a .657 on-base percentage.
"Hitting is our biggest strength," said Explosion head coach Bonnie Muzik. "Our kids can pound the ball. It amazes me how hard they hit. We work with them, but it's like something has really clicked."
The team's on-base percentage is .646 percent. All 12 players are bunched together.
"Everyone is hitting well and we have a nice blend of power and speed," said co-coach Pete Mohs.
Rounding out the infield for Brainerd is first baseman Kylie Abrahamson (.682, 37 R, 30 RBI) and at third Paige Olson (.686, 28, 30).
Jessica Mohs (.638, 20, 20) handles the catching for pitcher Kayla Jacobson (.627, 18, 23).
If Jacobson needs a break, Megan Carlson can relieve her. According to Muzik, Jacobson owns the mound.
"That's her position," Muzik said. "She can play outfield or infield, but she's our pitcher.
"The team stands behind her as a pitcher. Her confidence is really built by the other players knowing she's gong to do it for them."
Anna Anderson leads the platoon in outfield. Also playing outfield are Carlson, Hannah Brueland, Kelsey Kunde, Anna Johnson and Jenny Sather.
"The defense has been together for three years so they know each other well," Mohs said. "For a 14 and under team they are veterans. They have a lot of experience and they're good athletes."
Along with Muzik and Mohs the team is coached by Heather Jacobson.
Brainerd is currently defending its MSF state summer championship. The team is leaving for Moore Tuesday with one thing in mind.
"We're not going there for a vacation," said Mohs. "If we were going on vacation we would stay here in the lakes area.
"We're going there with a goal in mind and if we stay healthy and focused we have a good shot.
"I think they will represent Minnesota well."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.