Half of the stands at Lions Park in Elk River on Friday, May 7, were packed with fans who came all the way down from Brainerd to cheer on the Warriors. The Elks silenced those fans with their bats and a complete-game shutout from their star ace.
Elk River (11-1, 9-0) defeated Brainerd (11-3, 9-1) 9-0 behind senior pitcher Annie Volkers, who threw seven scoreless innings, and RBIs from Volkers, senior center fielder Emily Tatur, senior catcher Avery Hills, sophomore first baseman Kaylyn Breyen and sophomore first baseman Allie Voit.
Elks head coach Danielle Bloom said the Elks started off slow but poured on the offense in the later stages of the game.
“It was awesome,” Bloom said. “The team started connecting on some good pitches and strining runs together. Then, bases loaded, Allie Voit got up and hit her first varsity home run, which happened to be a grand slam. It was awesome. It was a fun game under the lights and the girls played well.”
Neither team could generate much offense in innings one through four. The Elks broke through in the fifth inning when Hills grounded out to drive in sophomore left fielder Karen Balabon. It was Hills’ 15th RBI of the season.
In the sixth inning, Breyen hit an RBI single to drive in sophomore right fielder Greta Nelson. It was Breyen’s seventh RBI of the season. Elk River padded its lead when Tatur drove in Breyen with an RBI single to center field for her fifth RBI of the season. Volkers drove in Tatur for her blank RBI of the season with an RBI single to center field.
Voit cleared the bases with her first-career home run, a grand slam which made it 8-0, scoring pinch runner Nora Zak, Volkers, Hills and Voit.
Offensive Player of the Game
Voit’s grand slam catapulted the Elks offense in the sixth inning.
Bloom said everyone was excited when Voit cleared the bases with her grand slam.
“The energy was awesome and everyone was cheering and yelling,” she said. “The team kept going. When one girl gets a hit, everyone has a lot of confidence. When someone hits a grand slam, the energy goes through the roof.”
Defensive Player of the Game
Volkers was dominant on Friday night. She threw her third complete game of the season and fourth shutout, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out 18 batters.
“[She] and Avery did a great job at going at their hitters,” Bloom said. “She worked deep into some pitch counts and she worked on all of her different pitches. The ability to be calm, cool and collected on the mound —she does a great job at that. She puts us on her back. I know I say that a lot, but she does and she did then. She trusts Avery and those two are a good duo. Annie pitched a heck of a game and kept them off the bases for the most part, which then, obviously, when we’re at the plate, takes off some of the pressure.”
Elk River will face Northwest Suburban Conference and ISD 728 nemesis Rogers (12-1, 8-1) on Saturday, May 15, at Lions Park in Elk River. The Elks defeated the Royals 12-1 in the most-recent game between the two teams on Friday, May 17, 2019, at North Community Park in Rogers.