Rangers see 11-game win streak snapped, but rebound to beat North Branch

Neither the threat of rain nor a change in schedule could keep the Forest Lake softball team from honoring its seniors on Friday, May 28.

That night the Rangers were expected to play Prior Lake in their final home game of the season, but the Lakers had to honor a league commitment and were forced to pull out of the contest.

“Luckily, I knew [North Branch coach] Kathy [Crudo] was looking for a game, so we were without a game for about 30 seconds,” Forest Lake coach Sean Hall said. “We were really happy that North Branch came and bailed us out.”

Forest Lake prevailed 6-4, but the Rangers never were able to pull away from the Vikings.

“Kathy is one of the best young softball coaches in the state, and she has done a tremendous job with the North Branch program,” Hall said. “And their pitcher, Hannah Bernier, kept us off-balance by moving the ball around.”

Forest Lake used a balanced offense to eventually pull away as three Rangers – seniors Megan Wolff and Logan Anderson along with sophomore Bethany Weiss – each had two hits, with Anderson contributing a pair of doubles.

In the circle Wolff was the starter and winner, allowing six hits in four innings, while freshman Hannah Tong covered the final three frames and surrendered just one hit and one walk while fanning five.

While facing a solid team was important, Hall said the goal of the night was to honor the team’s seniors.

“Most of these girls have been a part of the program for a long time,” Hall said. “These are really special kids, so it was important to honor what they have contributed to the program.”

To begin the week the Rangers traveled to Centennial on Monday, May 24, in a battle between two of the top Class 4A teams in the state. The Cougars, who are ranked second, prevailed 5-0 as a pair of Forest Lake errors contributed to a three-run rally by Centennial in the second, and the Rangers managed just two hits, singles by senior Hailey Pitzl and junior Amber Dunaski.

“We had a couple of mistakes early, and we never got going offensively,” Hall said. “We were chasing multiple runs right off the bat. We’re better when we’re ahead because we can be more aggressive. So we need to get better at getting our offense going when we are behind.”

The loss snapped an 11-game win streak for Forest Lake, which is ranked sixth in the state in Class 4A as it enters Section 7 tournament play this week.

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