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SOFTBALL: Brainerd blanks Bemidji 5-0

Bemidji catcher Abby Hinrichs was a little late with the tag as Brainerd’s Maria West scored during Brainerd’s 5-0 victory Friday. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 2
Bemidji pitcher Monica Wittner throws a pitch against Brainerd Friday night at BHS. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer2 / 2

BEMIDJI -- A few untimely errors and the inability to adjust to Maddie Franz's killer sinkerball at the plate resulted in Bemidji's 5-0 loss to rivals Brainerd Friday afternoon at the BHS softball field.

"We had some errors from unlikely people," BHS head coach Brad Takkunen said. "Normally we're solid in the infield but it seemed like we couldn't make a play today."

Bemidji (4-7) managed five hits off Franz but couldn't score on the Brainerd hurler.

Meanwhile, Brainerd (11-1) took full advantage of Bemidji's struggles in the field, scoring three times as a direct result of Lumberjacks errors.

In the first inning Brainerd's Bailey O'Hotto hit a leadoff triple before Bemidji pitcher Monica Wittner got herself out of the jam with a pair of groundouts and a strikeout.

However, in the second inning the Warriors capitalized on one of those Bemidji errors.

Wittner walked the first two batters of the inning, then a wild pitched moved them into scoring position with nobody out.

The next hitter, Kristina Anderson, hit an easy groundout to shortstop Hannah Olson for the first out, but when the runner on third decided to take off for home, first baseman Sylvia Grimm airmailed the throw past the catcher, allowing both runs to score and giving Brainerd the 2-0 lead.

Brainerd added to its lead in the third inning when a Maria West hit a grounder that Olson couldn't corral at short. West came around to score on a single and two groundouts, making it 3-0.

Wittner kept Brainerd off the scoreboard with a par of quick, efficient fourth and fifth innings, but in the sixth leadoff hitter Franz hit a bomb to dead center field, helping her own cause and making it 4-0.

The Warriors scored once again in the seventh, and again it was West who reached thanks to an error on the shortstop.

West scored on a single, a walk and a passed ball, making it 5-0.

Wittner got herself out of a jam once again, striking out two Brainerd batters with nobody out then having the third pop out to the catcher.

Bemidji threatened in the bottom of the seventh but couldn't make anything of their two-out rally. After a pair of strikeouts, Abby Hinrichs singled and Olson doubled -- the first extra-base hit for the Lumberjacks all game. Brainerd ended the game by forcing a flyout on the next hitter.

Franz finished the game and gave up five hits, struck out seven and walked nobody.

Wittner took the loss and struck out six but walked five. Only two of the runs scored on her were earned.

"The reality is Monica pitched a good game but their pitcher did too," Takkunen said. "Her ball was dropping a bit and we have to find ways to adjust to that."

Takkunen said the Lumberjacks have worked on being smarter in the field but still have room for improvement before their next game, scheduled for next Thursday at Moorhead.

"Our pitching was pretty good," Takkunen said. "I think we're starting to better understand what we're supposed to do with the ball in the field, we just need to make the plays. We made some errors but they were tough errors."

Brainerd 5, Bemidji 0

Brain 021 001 1 -- 5 5 2

Bem 000 000 0 -- 0 6 4

Franz (W) and Wennerstrand. K-7. BB-0.

Wittner (L) and Hinrichs. K-6. BB-5.

Jack Hittinger

Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.

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