The Rhinelander High School baseball team raced out to a hot start to the season and found themselves at 9-0, before the tides turned and the late start to the season paired with doubleheaders took its toll on the team. The Hodags would fall back and finished third in the Great Northern Conference at 8-6 and would go 12-11 on the season overall to finish about .500.
Offensively Rhinelander was the second best GNC team averaging 6.1 runs per contest, behind Antigo who averaged 10.3 runs. Defense in the conference was led by the Robins who only allowed 1.5 runs per game, and RHS was runner-up allowing 3.4 per contest.
The Hodags started the season with four straight no-conference wins against Peshtigo, Crivitz, Stratford, and Wausau East. They then opened their GNC portion of their schedule on May 1st where they swept Northland Pines in a doubleheader. Just two days later they against swept a conference doubleheader against Medford.
On May 7th, it appeared as if Rhinelander would continue the streak as they cruised to a convincing 10-0 victory against Lakeland. But in the second game of the doubleheader proved to be different story, and the Hodags suffered their first loss of the season in a close 5-4 game.
Rhinelander would lose eight straight including doubleheaders against Mosinee, Wisconsin Rapids, and Antigo. RHS fell to Tomahawk on the road in the first game of the doubleheader before breaking the streak and shutting out the Hatchets 6-0. The Hodags managed to get through their 21-game schedule in only 28 days, with all conference doubleheaders.
Opening the WIAA Division 2 regionals as the No. 2 seed, Rhinelander took on Lakeland and would easily earn the 7-0 win to advance to the regional finals. But the Hodags were denied their first trip to sectionals since 2004 and fell by one-run to Mosinee, who would go on to qualify for state.
Throughout the season, the Hodags were led by a core group of seniors which included Brad Comer, Jacob DeMeyer, Brad Quade, Cole Spaulding, and Owen White who all earned all-conference recognition this season. Comer and DeMeyer both earned all-state recognition as well by the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association; DeMeyer earned first-team as an outfielder, while Comer was honorable mention infielder. Bryce Schickert was the only non-senior to earn GNC honors and was honorable mention pitching as a junior.
DeMeyer finished with the third best batting average in the conference at 0.475 and was tied for second with 10 hits. Teammates Comer and White also made the top of the GNC and each collected 15 hits in the GNC. Comer was also tied for first in RBI's in the conference with 15. Quade was also tied for first in the GNC with 15 individual runs scored.
While for conference pitching, Rhinelander finished third as a team with a 3.59 ERA. Schickert was third in strikeouts with 20 and fourth with a 2.49 ERA. Josh Randolph also made the top GNC list for strikeouts and finished with 16.
Looking ahead to 2019, the Hodags will lose several of their top players to graduation and will have many gaps to fill. They will return a number of pitchers including Schickert, Randolph, Liam Stevens, and Martin Hoger for next season. But the biggest question will be what players will step up at the plate next season as well as fill gaps in the infield as well as outfield.