Rangers grind out wins on the diamond

Second-ranked softball team stays unbeaten

Third baseman Dana Mogren fires to first base in time to put out an East Ridge runner during last Wednesday’s 5-3 victory. (Photo by Clint Riese)

Clint Riese
Sports Editor

Since starting the season with a 10-run victory, the Forest Lake softball team has been challenged in three close games. The Rangers, ranked second in Class AAA, have come out ahead in all three, though, to stay undefeated.

“We know it’s early in the season, but we need to improve at the plate and make some adjustments,” said coach Angie Ryan. “We aren’t playing our best ball and we are 4-0…I guess that’s a good sign.”

Forest Lake picked up the second of its four wins last week at the home opener against East Ridge on Wednesday. Senior Andrea Mogren walked to lead off the bottom of the first and came around to score after a bunt and two wild pitches.

With the score tied 1-1 in the third, she singled, stole second base and scored on a single by junior Dana Mogren.

Forest Lake added two more in the fourth. Sophomore Mikayla Watters and junior KP Palo walked, then senior Maggie Forsell reached base on a Raptor fielding mistake. Ninth-grader Emily Lindstrom hit a grounder, and the East Ridge shortstop tried for the force out at home but threw too late. The ball squirted away from the catcher, allowing Palo to score as well.

The Raptors used two doubles to trim the lead to 4-3 in the sixth inning. Forest Lake got an insurance run in its half of the frame when a miscommunication in the outfield allowed pinch runner Emilie Antony to score from first base.

The final score was 5-3. Senior Micah McGuiness picked up the win. She scattered seven hits and walked two.

Coach Angie Ryan addresses the team in between innings last Wednesday. (Photo by Clint Riese)

“The difference in this game was defense,” Ryan said. “We were sharper than they were and we also took advantage of their defensive mistakes with our aggressive base-running.”

The Rangers traveled to St. Paul the next afternoon to face Cretin-Derham Hall. They came away with what Ryan deemed an ugly win, 6-4.

Dana Mogren drove in two with a second-inning double. Up 2-1, Forest Lake appeared to seal the win with a four-run top of the seventh. Jenn Zidar drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly. McGuiness plated two with a single and scored on a suicide squeeze bunt by Watters.

The Raiders rallied for three runs in their final at-bat. Two errors helped their cause. McGuiness pitched another complete game and allowed seven hits.

Offensively, Dana Mogren, Andrea Mogren and sophomore Natalie Wright each had two hits.

Forest Lake held on for a 2-1 victory at Hastings on Saturday. Andrea Mogren again got the scoring going early on. She opened the game with a single and Wright and Dana Mogren followed with singles to load the bases. Zidar hit a deep sacrifice fly. McGuiness then hit a grounder and the speedy Wright took off from third base on contact and scored to make it 2-0.

The Rangers would not add to the lead, despite having runners in scoring position in the second, fourth, fifth and seventh innings. Hastings got on the board in the third inning to make it a one-run game.

McGuiness relieved junior Michelle LaCasse for the final three innings and sealed the win. LaCasse allowed just two hits in her first varsity start. She also worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the first inning.

Wright went 4-4 and Forsell was 3-3 at the plate.

In all three games the Ranger offense was without Shannon Nelson. The all-state second baseman played in the field, but a quadriceps strain kept her out of the lineup.

“We are excited to get her back in the lineup offensively,” Ryan said. “Hopefully that will happen [this] week and our team will be at full strength.”

The home game scheduled against Mounds View on Monday was postponed to Tuesday due to inclement weather. Forest Lake plays at Park on Wednesday, hosts Roseville on Thursday, travels to Stillwater on Saturday and hosts White Bear Lake next Monday.