The No. 2 Forest Lake softball girls clinched the Suburban East Conference title last week with wins over Woodbury to stave off No. 7 Stillwater by just one game.
The Rangers closed out their final six games of the regular season with wins over East Ridge last Tuesday (5-1, 14-9), Hill-Murray on Wednesday (11-1) and Woodbury (2-0, 10-2) before getting revenge on No. 8 Orono with an 8-2 win on Friday. Orono knocked the Rangers out of the state tournament in the first round last season.
In the win over the Spartans on Friday, the Rangers out-hit their opponent 13 to five, starting with runs by junior Natalie Wright and senior Dana Mogren in the second inning to take a 2-1 lead.
Forest Lake broke the scoring wide open in the fourth and fifth innings, led by sophomore Kalynn Tilton, who went 3-4 on the game with a run scored and sophomore Taylor Shortly, who went 2-3 with two runs scored. Mogren and Wright both went 2-4 with one run scored.
Senior Michelle LaCasse pitched for the win, allowing five hits and two runs scored.
Head coach Angie Ryan said she is proud of the focus of her girls in the win over the Spartans on Senior Night and for the SEC championship.
“I am so proud of our players and their mental toughness,” Ryan said. “Eight games in five days is no easy feat, and the way we were able to stay focused each and every game is truly something to be proud of. This year’s team is an absolute joy to be around; I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls to coach. We are excited for this next chapter as we take on the post-season.”
Ryan also mentioned that senior Jennifer Zidar and Mogren have been selected to the Senior Softball All-Star Series in Mankato on Sunday, June 9.
The Rangers ended conference play with a record of 16-2 and overall record of 18-2, winning the SEC outright for the second year in a row. Last year’s outright win was the first since 1990.
Forest Lake enters the Section 7AAA tournament as the No. 1 seed and earned a bye for the first round of section play. The Rangers play the winner of Cambridge-Isanti and Blaine at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 25 in Duluth.