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The road to state.
May 31, 2014By Anoka Softball of Anoka Fast Pitch Softball
First a little Anoka softball history…
In 2003, Anoka had an unblemished record of 24-0 entering the section championship. They were ranked #1 in the state but lost both section championship games to Stillwater and have never made it to the state tournament. In each of the previous 6 years, Forest Lake has won the section 7AAA championship and in four of those years they beat Anoka in the section finals. To add to the challenge of making it to state this year, Elk River, the defending state champion, moved from section 8AAA to section 7AAA.
After a 1-2 start this season, Anoka rattled off 16 straight wins including a couple big wins versus highly ranked and defending state champion Elk River, earning the #1 seed in the section 7AAA tournament. On May 24th, in the first round of section 7AAA double elimination play, Anoka squared off against #9 seeded North Branch. After 3 scoreless innings, Anoka got on the board in the fourth with 3 runs after a North Branch error, a single by Taylor Chell, a double by Morgan Paaverud and a single by Amber Elliot. Anoka added one more run in the fourth on a single by LeeAnna Nevin followed by a couple North Branch miscues. Morgan hit a single in the 6th inning but there was no further scoring as Anoka won 4-0. Amber Elliott pitched a no hitter while striking out 11!
In the second game of the day on May 24th, Anoka faced the #5 seeded St. Francis Saints who beat #4 seeded Chisago Lakes in their first game of the day. After a scoreless first inning, Anoka tallied 3 runs in the 2nd inning after loading the bases on singles by Amber Elliott, LeeAnna Nevin and Alyssa Wicks. Then Laura King was hit by a pitch forcing in the first run, Dayja Rosario drew a walk to force in another and finally Alyssa Wicks scored on a wild pitch making the score 3-0. Over the next 3 innings neither team scored while Anoka had just one hit by Amber Elliott. In the top of the 6th inning, the Saints threatened loading the bases with one out after 3 consecutive Anoka errors but Megan pitched out of the jam with back to back strikeouts. In the bottom of the 6th inning, Anoka hit 5 singles by Monica Sjodin, Alyssa Wicks, Dayja Rosario, Makayla Zimmer and Megan Lindenfelser while Taylor Chell got in on the scoring with a 2 run homerun for a final score of 8-0. Megan Lindenfelser pitched all 7 innings for Anoka giving up 2 hits while striking out 13.
On Wednesday May 28th, Anoka went up against Elk River in the most dramatic game of sections for Anoka. The defending champs were seeded 3rd in the section and had knocked off the #2 seeded Forest Lake Rangers in the previous round. Anoka scored first after loading the bases on 3 consecutive walks and a ground out RBI by Morgan Paaverud. Two of those walks were issued to Taylor Chell and Megan Lindenfelser who both are walked frequently versus Elk River. Elk River tied it up with a homerun in the second but Anoka scored again in the 3rd on a double by Taylor Chell followed by an RBI single from Megan Lindenfelser. Megan stole second and advanced to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt before scoring on a passed ball for a 3-1 Anoka lead. Elk River added a second run in the 5th while Anoka scattered a couple singles by LeeAnna Nevin and Monica Sjodin. In the top of the 7th, down by a run, Elk River loaded the bases with no outs on back to back singles and a bunt single. With Elk River’s 3, 4 & 5 hitters due up the pressure was on. Elk River’s #3 hitter was 2 for 3 on the day but hit a ground ball to Makayla Zimmer at second base who made a quick throw home to Dayja Rosario for the first out. With the bases still full and just one out, Megan struck out Elk Rivers remaining 2 hitters to secure the win! Megan pitched all 7 innings giving up 7 hits while striking out 14.
In the final game of the section tournament on Thursday May 29th, Anoka faced their nemesis Forest Lake who had beat Elk River the day before earning a chance to battle back versus Anoka. After so many loses to Forest Lake in section final games over the previous 5 years, it seemed there should be no other way than to go through Forest Lake to earn the right to go to state. Anoka wasted little time in their quest. In the top of the first with 2 outs, Taylor Chell reached on an error and Megan Lindenfelser smacked a line drive over left center field fence for a 2-0 lead. In the 2nd inning Monica Sjodin hit a one out single and Laura King advanced her to 2nd with a sacrifice bunt. Alyssa Wicks collected an RBI driving in Monica with a double. Dayja Rosario drove in Alyssa with a double and Makayla Zimmer scored Dayja with a single. Leading 5-0 to start the third, Megan Lindenfelser led off with a double and Morgan Paaverud cranked a homerun adding 2 more runs. Amber Elliott and Laura King hit singles and with one out Alyssa Wicks hit into a double play to end the inning. In the bottom of the third, Forest Lake finally got on the board with on unearned run making the score 7-1. In the 4th, Anoka loaded the bases with one out on a single by Dayja, a Forest Lake error and an intentional walk of Megan. However with one out Forest Lake recorded an out at the plate and another out was called on obstruction during the play at the plate. Still leading 7-1, Morgan started the 5th with a walk. Amber and Monica each singled to load the bases. Laura King hit a fly ball to score Morgan. At 8-1 to start the 6th, Taylor Chell hit a single and Megan hit another 2 run homerun after the Forest Lake catcher received approval from her coach to pitch to Megan. Amber added another single but with no further scoring it was 10-1. In the bottom of the 7th, Forest Lake scored 2 runs on 4 singles for a final score of 10-3. Megan pitched all 7 innings allowing 6 hits while striking out 9.