The Rhinelander High School softball team struggled earlier in the week and suffered losses to Wausau East as well as the second game against Northland Pines, they came back strong and to sweep the doubleheader at Medford on Thursday evening. The Hodags took game one 11-5 and would finish 8-6 in game two after being called early.
The first game of the doubleheader proved to be the comeback story just like the team did this week. Rhinelander found themselves down three runs at 5-2 in the sixth inning and used a late rally and took advantage of several Medford errors to earn the six-run victory.
Early in the contest, the Raiders would score four runs in the bottom of the first which included a pair of Hodag errors. Medford's Mackenzie Fries would also add a solo homer in the fifth.
Rhinelander finally got on the board in the third frame when Ella Millikin drew a walk with the bases loaded. Cami Buchmann would then drill a triple in the fourth and Tori Roberts followed and reached on error allowing Buchmann to score.
The late rally started at the top of the lineup in the sixth with bases loaded and Stephanie Kuester up to the plate. Kuester grounded out, but a run still was able to score to bring RHS within two runs. Makayla Evenstad recorded an RBI single to make it a 5-4 game. Medford intentionally walked Makayla Kuester to reload the bases and would walk her two more times in the first game. And with back-to-back Medford errors the next two batters, Rhinelander pushed across four more runs to take the lead.
The Hodags would cushion their lead with three insurance runs in the seventh. Mullikin would once again reach on an error with two outs, which allowed Sophia McGinnis to score. Molly Wagler would then drive in two runs on a single to plate their final runs and RHS would earn the 11-5 win.
Wagler led the offense and earned a pair of RBI’s and went 2-5 at the plate. Stephanie Kuester earned the win in the circle and allowed two earned runs on four hits over seven innings of work.
In the second game of the evening, the Hodags used the momentum from the win in game one to propel them early. RHS would take a 4-0 lead but Medford would come back and took the lead for a short time in the fifth. Rhinelander would then plate four big runs in the fifth and held off the Raiders in the top of the sixth to earn the 8-6 win in the contest that was called an inning early due to darkness.
RHS raced out to a 3-0 lead after Stephanie Kuester cleared the bases on a double in the second inning. The Hodags added another run in the third frame when Mullikin also hit a double and scored on a sacrifice fly from Wagler.
But that lead would quickly erase and started in the fourth when senior Hailee Clausnitzer of Medford hit a home run. And then the Raiders capitalized on two Hodag errors which let Medford get within one run at 4-3. And Krista Golldhart of the Raiders would follow with an RBI single to tie the game up. Medford would then take the lead in the top of the fifth when Joelle Zenner scored on a double from Rachel Mudgett.
But Medford's lead didn't last long, when Makayla Kuester drove in her sister Stephanie on an RBI single to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth. Mullikin put the Hodags back ahead with a single and Buchmann also singled to plate another run. Mullikin would then score on a wild pitch.
The Raiders had a chance to comeback after Emily Schafer hit a double and would score on a grounder from Fries in the sixth. Clausnitzer reached on error with two outs and Medford popped out for the final out and RHS would secure the 8-6 win after the game was called an inning early.
Stephanie Kuester went 3-3 at the plate and RHS would cash in on 11 hits in the second game. Makayla Kuester, Buchmann, and Mullikin each charted two hits each in the win. Wagler earned the win in the circle allowing six earned runs on 11 hits.
Rhinelander advanced to 3-1 in Great Northern Conference and are 6-3 overall. The Hodags will be back in action for a non-conference invite at Kaukauna and they will return to conference play on Monday when they travel to Minocqua for a doubleheader against Lakeland.