Section finals

Buffalo knocks off Hopkins in 3A; Maple Grove, Anoka also advance

• BUFFALO 6, HOPKINS 4 (16): It took more than five hours and 16 innings, but Buffalo can finally say it has a state tournament softball team. The Bison rallied to beat Hopkins 6-4 in the second game of Thursday night’s Section 6, Class 3A finals in Eden Prairie. Senior first baseman Liz King drove in three runs with clutch hits in the sixth and seventh innings as Buffalo stormed back from a 3-1 deficit with five runs in the final two innings. Hopkins, the No. 1 seed in the section, came out of the losers bracket to beat Buffalo 2-1 in nine innings in the first game Thursday. “This is a special group of girls,” Buffalo coach Brad Zrust said. “They always have a lot of energy even when it looks like things weren’t going so well.”

• MAPLE GROVE 2, ROGERS 0: Top-ranked Maple Grove repeated as Class 3A, Section 5 softball champions by not giving up a run in four playoff games. Several times during the victory over Rogers, however, the Crimson looked vulnerable. The Royals left a total of five runners on base in the fifth and seventh innings as Maple Grove (22-2) closed the door each time. Pitcher Sydney Smith recorded 13 strikeouts and her defense did the rest. “They had the bases loaded with one out, they had kids on second and third — we had to get kids out in big situations,” Maple Grove coach Jim Koltes said.

• ANOKA 3, FOREST LAKE 2: Sophomore Amber Elliot pitched four innings in a relief appearance to help top-seeded Anoka defeat second-seeded Forest Lake and win the Class 3A, Section 7 championship at Andover High School. Elliot gave up a home run to Mia Schmidtke in the top of the fourth inning, but cruised through the rest of the game en route to the victory, which sends the Tornadoes to the Class 3A state tournament for the second consecutive season. Junior first baseman Morgan Paaverud drove in Anoka’s first run on a sacrifice fly in the third inning, and senior outfielder Taylor Chell put the Tornadoes (22-1-1) ahead 3-2 with a two-run home run to left-center field in the fifth.

• WOODBURY 9, NORTH ST. PAUL 2: Sophomore pitcher Ashley Mickschl hurled a complete game to help top-ranked Woodbury punch its ticket to the state tournament with a victory over No.2 seed North St. Paul in the Class 3A, Section 4 tournament final at North St. Paul High School. The Royals (17-6) erupted for five runs in the fifth inning with RBI from Cameron Veenbaas, Madison Yochum, Alexis Jacobs and Melissa Johnson.

• FARMINGTON 5, HASTINGS 0: Emily Berdan hit a solo home run to help power the Tigers to the Class 3A, Section 1 title. Maddie Muelken pitched a shutout and added three RBI. This is the Tigers’ third state tournament berth in four years.

Staff reports