The Rhinelander High School softball team rallied back in game one against Tomahawk on Thursday to split a doubleheader at Pioneer Park. The Hodags would score two runs in the seventh to comeback to defeat the Hatchets 3-2 but that momentum quickly wore off in the second game of the evening, and Tomahawk proved to be solid at the plate and earned the 12-2 win, marking another split series for RHS this season.
Ace Stephanie Kuester broke open the pitching dual when she scored the first run of the night on a solo homer down the right field line in the third frame. But Tomahawk fought back and scored in the top of the fifth when a throw to first base was dropped on two outs, allowing Jordyn Kaminski of the Hatchets to score.
Then in the final inning, Kaminski started off with a double for Tomahawk and would score on a sacrifice fly by Courtney Theiler which would give the Hatchets a one-run advantage.
But the Hodags struck when it counted the most to answer in bottom of the seventh. With nobody on and two outs, Cami Buchmann reached on an error while Tomahawk intentionally walked Stephanie Kuester who was 3-for-3 at the plate up to that point. Mikayla Evenstad had a perfectly placed slap-blooper to shallow right down the line. Buchmann was able to beat out a throw to the plate to tie the game 2-2.
And once again, the Hatchets intentionally walked Makayla Kuester which brought sophomore Ella Mullikin up the plate. Mullikin beat out the throw on a swinging bunt down the third-base line, which allowed Stephanie Kuester to score from third, which gave the Hodags the one-run victory.
Despite five errors for Rhinelander's defense, they still charted the win with Stephanie Kuester only giving up two-hits while walking four and striking out three.
The Hodags finished with six hits off Tomahawk pitcher Rachel Dallman and scored three runs. Dallman walked four batters all intentionally and struck out 11.
But Game 2 proved to be a different story, where the Hatchets plated 10 runs on nine hits over 3 1/3 innings against Molly Wagler to earn the 10-run victory.
Tomahawk plated twice in the first frame and would stay ahead from that point. The Hatchets biggest inning was in the fourth when they cashed in on seven big runs to blow the game out.
Rhinelander's only two runs came from Makayla Kuester who connected on a two-RBI double in the fifth. But the Tomahawk would clench the winning run in the sixth after scoring on a wild pitch.
The Hodags earned a three-seed for the WIAA playoffs and will face sixth-seed Lakeland on Wednesday night at Pioneer Park. The winner will advance to the regional final game on Thursday that will be held in Merrill.
The Rhinelander High School softball team would once again split a Great Northern Conference doubleheader, this time on the road against rival Antigo on Tuesday evening at Lake Park. The Hodags edged the Robins 4-3 in the first game, but a costly sixth inning in the second game gave Antigo the 12-2 victory.
Rhinelander had a 4-0 advantage to start the first game and were able to fend off the Robins who charted three unanswered runs. RHS got on board right away in the first after Stephanie Kuester was hit by a pitch and later scored on a single from Ella Mullikin. The Hodags loaded the bases with no one out in the third and scored a pair of runs on wild pitches. Mullikin added a sacrifice fly for their fourth run.
Stephanie Kuester earned the win in the circle and only allowed two late hits for Antigo; a two-run shot from Lizzy West in the fourth and a solo homer by Kendall Smith in the sixth to bring the Robins within one run. But Kuester retired the final five batters and finished with eight strike outs.
But the second game proved to be a different story for the inconsistent Hodags. Rhinelander committed five errors in the sixth where the Robins plated eight runs after sending 10 straight batters to the plate without an out.
Smith continued to be strong at plate and connected on a three-run shot to give Antigo an early three-run advantage. Smith would also hit an RBI single in the fourth for the Robins.
Rhinelander's only scored one run in the second and third and was not enough to pull through in Game 2. Mullikin walked and scored on a groundout by Brylee Ridderbusch to put the Hodags on the board. And Cami Buchmann got on base after being hit by a pitch and scored on a single by Mullikin. Kuester pitched five innings and took the loss and was relieved by Molly Wagler in the sixth.
The Hodgas fell to 500 at 5-5 in the Great Northern Conference and are now 10-9 overall this season. Rhinelander will conclude their regular season on Thursday when they host Tomahawk for a doubleheader at Pioneer Park. WIAA playoffs will then begin Tuesday or Wednesday bases on the seeding meeting.
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