Senior Megan Baniecke threw a four-hit shutout as Forest Lake earned its sixth trip to the state softball tournament in nine years with a 3-0 victory over Anoka in the Class 4A, Section 7 championship game Thursday.
Baniecke and junior Claire Bakkestuen each went 2-for-2 with an RBI and run scored. The Rangers scored all three of their runs in the first inning.
The Rangers improved to 22-2 with the victory over the defending section champion Tornadoes. Anoka (18-6) was the runner-up at the Class 4A state tournament last year.
In other section championship matchups:
Section 1: Lakeville North (13-8) belted three home runs, including a grand slam by senior Alexi Smith, to outlast Farmington 8-6 in Game 2 of the finals. Teammate senior Brianna Daechsel added a two-run shot and freshman McKinley Malecha a solo shot. Farmington (19-7) forced the deciding game with a 13-2 victory over the Panthers earlier in the day.
Section 4: Fifth-seeded Stillwater (14-12) came all the way through the losers’ bracket after an opening-round loss to win the title. The Ponies beat North St. Paul (15-4) twice in the finals, 6-4 and 10-5. They won six consecutive games.
Section 4: Hill-Murray (16-3) scored five runs in the first inning and went on to a 9-3 victory over St. Anthony (17-8). Junior Alli Clark went 3-for-4, including two doubles, and scored twice while winning pitcher senior Jayna Witzany went 2-for-2 with three RBI for the Pioneers.
Section 5: Maple Lake defeated Norwood Young America twice to repeat as section champions. The Irish rallied for a 7-4 victory in the first game and then won 10-0. The Irish, the runner-up at the Class 2A state tournament last year, trailed 4-2 in the first game before scoring five runs. Linsey Rachel had a double, home run and four RBI in the first game for the Irish. Teammates Katie Goelz, Calli Maki and Mollie Scheiber each hit a home run in the deciding game.
Minneapolis Washburn 6, Minneapolis Southwest 0: Senior Will Harlow allowed just four hits and struck out six in the Millers’ Class 4A, Section 6 second-round victory. Senior Jake Garrison was 4-for-4 with a double and three RBI for the Millers (10-8).
Rocori 5, Becker 4: Mason Primus’ RBI-single in the ninth inning — his third hit of the game — lifted the Spartans over the Bulldogs in the Class 3A, Section 6 quarterfinals. Primus also was the winning pitcher, throwing three scoreless innings.
Eden Prairie 8, Shakopee 7 (OT): Jacob Rhee’s goal in overtime lifted the Eagles to the Section 2 quarterfinal victory.