The Rhinelander High School softball team needed a big win on Thursday on the road paired with a Mosinee loss to Antigo to share the Great Northern Conference, but unfortunately neither happened. The Hodags fell to Tomahawk 6-5 in nine innings, marking their second loss to the Hatchets this season. And the Indians earned the GNC title after edging the Red Robins 7-6 the same night.
Both teams took some time to get their bats warmed up, and Tomahawk finally got on board in the third inning, as the plated three runs to take the lead.
The Hatchets would hold the 3-0 lead until Rhinelander responded in the sixth frame and was sparked by Makayla Kuester. First Kuester connected on an RBI single to put the Hodags' on the board. And then again in the top seventh frame, she connected on a grand slam to give RHS their first lead of the night at 5-3.
Makayla finished the night with five RBI’s and went 2-for-3 at the plate. While leadoff Ivy Packard also went 4-for-5 on the night and scored two runs for Rhinelander.
But with one out, the Hatchets came back with a hit and walk. Katy Volz would follow up plating two runs on a single to tie the game up 5-5 and force extra innings.
The Hodags had some chances to put the game away, but were unable to capitalize. Tomahawk’s Holly Winker hit a walk-off single to push the Hatchets ahead 6-5.
In the circle, Ali Schickert allowed three earned runs on three hits. She finished with six strike outs.
Rhinelander fell to 8-4 in the GNC standings and are now 12-9 overall. The Hodags' now shift their focus to the first round of the WIAA playoffs. RHS will host Merrill on Wednesday at Pioneer Park, with first pitch set for 4:30PM.
The Rhinelander High School softball team prevailed on Tuesday in a doubleheader as they hosted Antigo, sweeping both Great Northern Conference contests at Pioneer Park. The Hodags earned a 3-2 victory in game one, and took the second game 5-1 that was called after five full innings were complete due to lightning.
Senior centerfielder Ivy Packard would push Rhinelander passed the Robins in game one after reaching on error and scoring on the same play in the final inning. The Hodags used the momentum and carried it into game two. RHS would plate four big runs in fourth to help lead them to a 5-1 game that was cut short due to lightning.
Packard had a big night, not only at the plate where she charted three hits in the first game, but also made several impressive plays in the outfield including throwing out Alayna Weix at home on a shallow fly out to center. She also threw out Allison Kondzela in game two, who attempted to score from second base on a single from Smith.
Rhinelander and Antigo are both now 8-3 in the GNC standings and both still have a shot at sharing the title with Mosinee, with a few crucial games left of the regular season.
The Hodags didn't waste any time in the first game of the night, and would plate two runs in the first to take an early lead. Packard and Stephanie Kuester each had bunt singles and scored. Packard would beat a throw to home on a grounder from Lindsay Juedes with the bases loaded. While Kuester was drove in on a grounder from Ella Mullikin.
Neither team would score again until the top of the seventh when Kendall Smith of Antigo connected on a two-run homer to right center to tie the game up 2-2. Pitcher Kondzela walked to set the stage for Smith. Relief pitcher Molly Wagler was ahead 0-2 on the count, but left one hanging that Smith took advantage of.
And with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, it appeared Rhinelander might be going into extra innings, but that clearly wasn't the case. Packard laid down a well-placed bunt to the third base line that third baseman Laurissa Belott threw wide to first and rolled to the right field corner. With Packard's speed, she was able to make it all the way around and just out beat a tag at home to give the Hodgas' the one run win.
After Wagler allowed one more hit, the Hodgas brought in Stephanie Kuester to finish pitching and get out of the jam. Kondzela pitched all seventh innings for the Red Robins and would record the loss. Ali Schickert started the contest and shutout Antigo in the first five innings and finished with four strikeouts, but walked six batters.
In game two, Rhinelander carried the momentum from the first game over and capitalize on one run in the first, followed by four plated runs in the fourth on three hits.
Packard leadoff the top of the first and reached on error and would steal second and third base to set up Makayla Kuester at the plate. Makayla Kuester would drive in Packard on an RBI-single to right field for the first run.
The Robins had Kondzela in scoring position in the bottom of the second on a two-out stand up double. But that was when Packard threw out Kondzela who tried scoring from second on a shallow single to center field by Smith to end the threat. And Antigo was cut short again, leaving runners on second and third in the second frame.
It was a three-up-three-down inning for both teams in the third, before Rhinelander rallied in the fourth. Makayla Kuester had bunt single and advanced to third on a sacrifice from Juedes. Wagler would drive in Kuester on a single to center. Mullikin walked after Wagler stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
And with two outs Sophia McGinnis would record a two-RBI single to right field to put the Hodags up 4-0. Mikayla Evenstad after a bunt attempt drove in McGinnis on a single to shortstop, where Kondzela slid over closer to third to cover the bunt. RHS took a 5-0 lead on three big hits.
Antigo once again put the pressure on the Hodags' defense in the bottom of the fourth. Smith walked and Abi Fleischma had a line drive single passed second which McGinnis just barely missed hitting off the tip of her glove. And after a pop out to catcher Makayla Kuester and a strike out, Smith was called out after a run down between second and third.
The Robins would plate their lone run in game two in the fifth frame. Belott had a stand-up double to left field with one out. And Laynie Weix drove in Belott on another double to left. But Kondzela would ground out to prevent any more runs.
Rhinelander would score another run in the sixth after Wagler and Mullikin walked and pinch runner Cami Buchmann would score, and with Erica Counter at the plate, a flash of lighting came and would bring the game to a halt and was eventually called. The Hodags' final run did not count due the game being stopped in the beginning of the sixth.
RHS will be back in action for another GNC rival game on Thursday. The Hodags' will travel to Tomahawk to take on the Hatchets who defeated RHS in their first meeting 8-3 on April 25th.
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