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Softball: Chargers erase slow start to cruise to eighth straight win

Brandon-Evansville freshman Mikenna Pattrin goes into her windup from the circle on Thursday against Ashby. Pattrin allowed just two unearned runs over five innings and had four hits and three RBIs to help the Chargers to a 14-7 win. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)1 / 5
Ashby junior Josey Ness releases a pitch during the first inning against Brandon-Evansville on Thursday night. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)2 / 5
Brandon-Evansville's Korrie Randt fields a ball at second base before throwing on to first for the out on Thursday against Ashby. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)3 / 5
Junior Sara Jacobson releases a pitching during the first inning of the Chargers' 14-7 win over Ashby. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)4 / 5
Ashby sophomore Taleeyah Johnson watches the pitch as she gets off the base at second after getting a hit during the Arrows' game in Brandon on Thursday night. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)5 / 5

The team that fell behind 5-0 in the top of the first inning on Thursday night did not look like one in the midst of a long winning streak.

The Brandon-Evansville softball team committed multiple errors in its start against Ashby that allowed the Arrows (6-5) to grab that early lead.

“It was rough,” Chargers’ freshman Mikenna Pattrin said.

But as slow as Brandon-Evansville started, the Chargers finished just as fast. They rallied to tie things in the bottom of the third and went on to win 14-7 for an eighth straight win.

“I feel like we all came back together in the end and came out with a team win,” Pattrin said. “It was fun.”

Those early struggles do come with a caveat. The Chargers were without four of their seniors on Thursday after they earned a trip to the Business Professionals of America National Leadership Conference in Dallas. That meant four freshmen were in the starting lineup.

“So to come back from that first inning that was not pretty, it shows a lot about their heart and their fight,” B-E head coach Kasi Sieling said. “They were able to just chip away. They made the plays when they needed to, and they didn’t dwell on (mistakes). That’s huge to have a short memory in softball.”

The Chargers got RBI singles in the third inning from Pattrin and sophomore Maddie Otto. Freshman Bailey Schaefer added another single that drove in two as Brandon-Evansville left the inning tied at five apiece.

The Arrows took back the lead in the top of the fourth with two more runs, but the Chargers took control from there with five in the bottom of the inning. Pattrin drove in another run on a hit before junior Alena Shores and Otto each had two-run singles to give B-E a lead it never relinquished.

“We just knew we had to come back,” Schaefer said of their approach after the early 5-0 deficit. “We knew we could trust our bats to get us going.”

Junior Sara Jacobson started from the circle and went two innings before shifting over to second base where she made a couple nice plays in the field. Pattrin came on to pitch in the third and went the final five innings for the win. She allowed two unearned runs on just three hits and no walks, while striking out three.

“I know my team will back me up no matter what,” Pattrin said. “My job is to just throw where Bailey’s spots are (at catcher), and my defense works behind me. I felt good. I try to keep a positive attitude. Positivity keeps us going.”

That positive approach has led the Chargers back from an 0-3 start to the season. They lost four of their first six, including an 8-7 game to this same Ashby team on April 27. Since then, Brandon-Evansville has outscored opponents 66-31 in eight victories.

“Our pitchers have been trusting our defense,” Schaefer said. “We’ve been trusting each other to make plays, so it’s just great teamwork.”

Sieling sees a team that is playing with much more confidence than it did in mid-April. The Chargers lost much of their lineup from an 18-8 team a year ago, so working in some young talent proved to be a process.

“I think the girls are just getting more comfortable,” Sieling said. “We have a lot of girls who this is their first season on varsity. In those early games, some of those instinctual plays we were hesitant. We weren’t always confident and attacking like we are now. We’re playing with more aggressiveness where we’re going and getting it.”

Some of their young players led the charge on Thursday. Pattrin added four hits, two runs and three RBIs to her pitching win. Otto had a three-hit night with three RBIs and Schaefer was 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs.

At 10-4 and with four games left in the regular season, the Chargers are making the kinds of strides they want to make heading toward the playoffs.

“It’s awesome to see,” Sieling said. “To see their growth from where they were in those first couple games to where we’ve come and how they continue to improve is awesome. They understand that as long as they’re playing hard, they’re going to keep getting better and that’s all I can ask of them.”

ASHBY     500 200 0 - 7 7 2

B-E           104 513 X - 14 18 7

PITCHING - B-E - Sara Jacobson - 2IP, 4H, 5R, 1ER, 1BB, 2SO; Mikenna Pattrin - W, 5IP, 3H, 2R, 0ER, 0BB, 3SO; Ashby - Josey Ness - L, 6IP, 18H, 14R, 12ER, 2BB, 5SO

B-E OFFENSE - Korrie Randt - 2-4, 3 runs; Jacobson - 3-4, 1 run; Pattrin - 4-5, 2B, 2 runs, 3 RBI; Kaylee Bitzan - 2-3, 1 run, RBI; Bailey Schaefer - 3-4, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Maddie Otto - 3-4, 1 run, 3 RBI

ASHBY OFFENSE - Amelia Barry - 2-4, 2 runs; Ness - 1-4; Courtney Koefod - 2-4, 2B, 1 run, RBI

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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