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Raiders are SEC softball co-champs

The Hastings girls softball team won four straight Suburban East Conference games down the stretch to tie Forest Lake for the conference title.

Two of those wins came late last week, with the Raiders beating Roseville and White Bear Lake.

The Raiders knew that if they won those final two games, they’d clinch a share of the title.

“The girls were focused,” assistant coach Ken Lundquist said. “Even though White Bear had only won one game all year, they’re capable of beating anybody.”

Now, Hastings will turn its attention to the section tournament, which began Wednesday night at home for the Raiders. Hastings played the winner of the 3:30 p.m. game between Rochester Century and Austin.

Win or lose, Hastings plays Friday in Austin.

“We’re just excited,” Lundquist said. “This is a great time of the year. The girls love the hour-and-a-half bus trip down to Austin. There’s a lot of bonding and silly things that happen. They actually look forward to the bus trip coming up on Friday.”

Hastings is the No. 2 seed in the section. Lakeville South is No. 1.

Rochester Mayo is No. 3 and Farmington is No. 4.

The section tournament continues Tuesday and then the finals are Thursday. Hastings has won five straight games, including an impressive non-conference win over one of the top-15 teams in the state, Chanhassen.

“That old cliché about peaking at the right time – that’s what this team is doing in all aspects of the game,” Lundquist said. “We’re playing our best ball heading into sections.”

Vs White Bear Lake

In the regular season finale, Hastings beat White Bear Lake, 4-0.

Mikayla Minnaert was the starting pitcher. She threw a complete game shutout to get the win.

“We had great defense behind her,” Lundquist said.

Hastings scored two runs in the third inning. Mills led off with a single. With two outs, Shelby Wassink had a two-out single to score Mills.

Brooke Weber walked to move Wassink up to second. Abbey Putnam came in to run for Wassink. Autumn Kusske-Anderson singled in Putnam.

Hastings scored two more runs in the bottom of the sixth. Kusske-Anderson led off with a single. Paige Ahrens followed that up with a single and Kusske-Anderson advanced.

Taeler McVicker came in to pinch-hit and she hit a sacrifice fly to score Kusske-Anderson.

The final run was scored after Taylor Wickberg hit a sacrifice.

Vs Roseville

Hastings beat Roseville on May 15, 11-3.

“We knew going into the Roseville game that if we won our last two games, we’d be conference champions,” Lundquist said. “Roseville was the first step.”

Hastings jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning.

Brooke Weber singled. Kusske-Anderson singled. Ahrens hit a sacrifice fly to score one. Alex Mohrhauser singled to score another.

Mills hit a two-out double to score one.

Rachel Thomas hit a two-out single to score another.

In the fifth inning, Hastings scored seven runs.

The first seven batters of the inning all reached base. Mills hit a bases-clearing triple to score three.

Meagan Friederichs pitched for Hastings.

“You could tell she didn’t have her best stuff, but the defense behind her was phenomenal,” Lundquist said. “She didn’t have the velocity on the ball that she normally has. Rachel called a great game and kept the ball out of the zone. Give a lot of credit to Meagan for coming in and pitching a complete game when she didn’t have her best stuff.”

Friederichs allowed seven hits and had five strikeouts.

Vs Chanhassen

Hastings beat Chanhassen on Wednesday, 8-0.

In the second inning, Paige Ahrens walked, Mohrhauser sacrificed her to second and Wickberg singled to score Ahrens.

Katherine Rupp came in to pinch-run for Wickberg.

Thomas hit a two-out single to score Rupp.

In the fifth inning, Wassink singled and Weber singled. Kusske-Anderson then singled to load the bases with nobody out.

A sacrifice fly by Ahrens scored Wassink.

With two outs, Wickberg had an RBI single.

In the top of the sixth, Hastings added four more runs.

Thomas and Friederichs drew walks. Weber hit an RBI single and Kusske-Anderson walked to load the bases.

Ahrens had a ground-ball out that scored one.

Mohrhauser then had a two-out single to score two.

“That might have been the best game we played all year,” Lundquist said. “Our defense, Michaela Mills and Alyssa Robinson, both had plays that were unbelievable.”

Friederichs threw a complete game shutout, allowing just four hits. She retired 14 batters in a row at one point.