Fifteen up, fifteen down for Rangers
The Ranger softball team on Monday night gained its first reward in what has been a spotless season. With a 9-1 win over Park, Forest Lake clinched its first outright conference title since 1990. The program has shared titles in 2010, 2000 and 1994.
Three games remain in Suburban East Conference play, but at 15-0, no one can catch the Rangers.
“This was a very exciting day for our players, parents, coaches and the program,” said coach Angie Ryan. “To be 15-0 in a tough conference and play so well today feels really good. Our girls work extremely hard in season and out and I am just proud to be a part of all the fun that their hard work has created.”
A three-run fourth inning cracked open what had been a close contest. Sophomore Mikayla Watters hit a one-out home run over the fence in left-center field. Her first homer of the year made it 3-1. Emily Lindstrom and Andrea Mogren then walked and both went on to score on a throwing error.
Lindstrom hit a two-out single to drive in two runs in the fifth to make the score 7-1. Natalie Wright, Dana Mogren and Jenn Zidar had hits in a two-run sixth inning.
Michelle LaCasse allowed one run on four hits over the first three innings. Micah McGuiness gave up one hit in three innings of relief.
McGuiness and Dana Mogren had RBI singles in the first inning to put Forest Lake up 2-0.
Zidar finished with three hits. Wright and Dana Mogren each went 2-4 and scored twice.
The Rangers tied with Park for third place in the SEC at 9-4 last year, behind Hastings and Stillwater. The conference changed its format this season to have each team play each other twice.
Second-ranked Forest Lake takes its perfect record to Roseville (5-10) this Wednesday. The Rangers host Stillwater (9-6) tonight, May 10. Friday brings the only non-conference games of the regular season in the form of a road doubleheader against Duluth East and Duluth Denfeld. The regular season ends with a game at White Bear Lake (9-5) next Monday.
Rangers 4, Mustangs 2 (8 innings)
The latest scare for Forest Lake came in Mounds View last Thursday. The Mustangs sat in second place in the SEC standings and took a two-run lead in the first inning with help from an error.
The Rangers chipped away in the third. Shannon Nelson walked, stole second and scored on a single by Dana Mogren.
Wright beat out an infield single to open the top of the sixth. After stealing second, she scored on a single by McGuiness to tie the game.
The game was decided in extra innings, as Forest Lake scored twice in the eighth. Dana Mogren sparked the rally with a one-out single and Zidar followed with a double. A RBI groundout by McGuiness put the Rangers ahead and Watters provided breathing room by driving in a fourth run with a double.
LaCasse went the distance for the win, allowing three hits.
Rangers 7, Raiders 5
Forest Lake had already defeated Hastings this spring, but it got even more revenge against the Raiders here last Wednesday. Hastings beat the Rangers in the state championship game last year.
In this meeting, a six-run second inning was enough for the hosts in a 7-5 win.
Hastings trailed 7-1 in the sixth but made it interesting with a grand slam by Lori Bauer.
Forest Lake had six hits, and each came from a different player. Nelson had a two-run single and Lindstrom drove in one with a single. McGuiness picked up the win.