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Brinkmann, Tigers continue hot start

3/11/2014

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Coach Erin Kinberger normally has her Fort Hays State University softball team read a book in the offseason. Before the 2014 season, FHSU read a Jon Gordon book for the second straight year. Last season, the Tigers read "The Energy Bus." This year, it was Gordon's "Training Camp."

"I know he is great with sports motivational speaking, getting focus and confidence," senior first baseman Danie Brinkmann said. "I think they are absolutely great books. I know other programs across the country have read them as well, and it's done great things for us."

On Monday, Brinkmann and Fort Hays continued their solid season with a home doubleheader sweep, 9-5 and 6-0, of Southwest Baptist (Mo.) University at Tiger Stadium.  

FHSU, ranked No. 15 in NCAA Division II, moved to 14-5, 4-0 MIAA, while Southwest Baptist dropped to 4-12, 2-4 MIAA. In Game 1, FHSU scored four runs in the first and added three in the fourth and two in the sixth.

The Tigers had 12 hits and four errors in a game that had seven miscues.

Kelsey Kimminau (6-1) earned the victory with six innings and Katlyn Kern pitched the seventh for her fourth save.

Kern is already nearly halfway to the MIAA single season record of 10 saves set by Missouri Southern State University's Britany Hargis in 2001.

"Because of her heart, the team plays behind her so strong," coach Erin Kinberger said.

"There is not a kid out here that doesn't want to see KK Kern just have a day. She brings a good atmosphere."

Brinkmann finished 1 of 4 with a run scored and a RBI in Game 1, and was of 0 of 2 in the second contest. Paxton Duran (7-3) worked a three-hitter for the shutout. Brinkmann, a two-time all-MIAA player in her fourth season with the Tigers, carries a .321 average with seven doubles and 11 RBIs in 51 at-bats this spring.

"She seems to be in the zone right now," Central Missouri coach Susan Anderson said.

At times, Brinkmann feels anxiety on the field, sometimes when it's talking to her infield or organizing the defense.

"It actually really helped," Brinkmann said of the book. "Anytime I get any sort of anxiety or anything, I sort of surpass it, and I turn it into confidence."

Brinkmann opened her career at NCAA Division I Creighton University before she transferred to FHSU before the 2011 season. That year, she collected all-MIAA honorable mention honors and played every game at shortstop.

She redshirted 2012 because of injuries and then collected honorable mention at third base last year. Brinkmann finished with a .317 average and a team-high 13 doubles last spring.   This season, she moved to first base after some offseason surgery.

"She has always been a really good, contact hitter for them," Anderson said. "It's different seeing her over at first base rather than on the left side."

Against University of Central Missouri on Sunday, Brinkmann collected three doubles, several hard-hit balls and played well at first.

"It's gone pretty well," Brinkmann said. "It's just took a little bit of an adjustment. I moved from short to third the year before, so kind of used to learning all the different positions and kind of being versatile.

"It was just a matter of kind of learning the little quirks of first base, the appropriate stretching, not stretching too early, backing up home on throws from the outfield, all those sort of things," she added. "I am kind of making sure I am in my zone, and I keep everybody else in the zone as well."