The Rhinelander High School softball team finally was able to get on the field starting Tuesday after their first 10 games of the year were postponed or canceled. The Hodags first fell to Antigo 8-3 on the road Tuesday evening and would drop a doubleheader at Tomahawk on Thursday. Despite not recording a win in their first three contests, it an achievement they were finally able to get on the field after a month of indoor practices.
In addition to getting outside, Rhinelander also got a lift with Mikayla Eventstad, the teams' only senior who returned to the lineup on Thursday. Evenstad was out with a knee injury but it back starting in centerfield for Rhinelander.
In there opening game at Lake Park in Antigo, the Robins used six runs in the second frame to cruise to a five-run victory. While Rhinelander was happy to get their young squad on the diamond, Antigo already played in eight games prior to their meeting.
Junior Brylee Ridderbusch started in the circle for the Hodags, but her along with Rhinelander's two other pitchers have not had any varsity experience pitching prior to Tuesday. Ridderbusch was able to work around three walks in the first inning, but the second proved to be a different story.
The first nine batters of Antigo got on base in the second frame and the Robins got on the board when Alonna Weix singled and later scored on a wild pitch. From there, three straight walks loaded the bases. Taylor Arrowood connected on a two-RBI double and teammate Brinna Mauk put Antigo ahead 5-0 after a two-run single. Rhinelander junior Sophia McGinnis came in for relief and would walk Alison Peters with bases load to extend the Robins lead before they were able to get out of the inning.
The Hodags were able to rallied back in the third inning that started when Ridderbusch reached on error. RHS catcher Ella Mullikin put Rhinelander on the board with an RBI single. Mullikin would record two of the Rhinelander's six hits on the night. McGinnis would conneted on a double and Alex Oestreich drove her in on a single. Kylee White would later drive in McGinnis for the Hodags final run.
Antigo would tack on two insurance runs in the fifth and sixth frame. Arrowood scored Peters on an grounder to start and Laynie Weix would double and score on a sacrifice fly by Alicia Turunen in the sixth.
Ridderbusch would take the loss for RHS after giving up six runs on three hits and seven walks in 1 2/3 innings pitched. McGinnis came in for 3 1/3 innings in relief and allowed one run on three hits with five walks and two strikeouts. And Alex Oestreich closed out the final 1 2/3 innings and gave up one run on one hit and added one walk.
Rhinelander was on the road again Thursday, this time a doubleheader at Tomahawk. Inconsistent Hodag defense and pitching aided the Hatchets to cruise to a 11-0 and 12-1 victories and RHS fell to 0-3 on the season.
In the opening game, Tomahawk scored in all four innings and their defense and pitching was able to keep Rhinelander from scoring. The Hatchets used some early walks, wild pitches, and throwing errors to go up 6-0 early and never looked back. McGinnis started in the circle for Rhinelander and pitched 1 2/3 inning and allowed six runs and had seven walks.
Ridderbusch came in for relief and pitched 2 1/3 innings and gave up five runs on four hits. The Hatchets tacked on four runs alone in the third sparked by a two-RBI single from Katy Volz. Tomahawk would added their final run in the fourth.
Despite not scoring in the first game, Rhinelander did have their opportunities and had base runners in all five innings. In the first inning, Mullikin had a single past shortstop with Hannah Worachek on second that could have put a run on the board but Worachek was called out or interference at shortstop.
But Worachek would not let that slow her down, especially in the second game where she connected on her first varsity home run in the first. RHS would take an early 1-0 lead after Worachek hit deep ball to centerfield that bounced of Taylor Shilts' glove.
That spark didn't last for the Hodgs and Tomahawk's offense proved to be too much for starting pitcher Alex Oestreich and the defense. Oestreich only gave up one hit through the first two innings but in the third frame zoned in and cashed in on six runs on six hits. The Hatchets would tack on three more runs in the fourth and fifth frame. McGinnis came in and closed the game in the fifth for the Hodags.
Worachek led the Hodags' offense on the day finishing 3-for-6 at the plate including a pair of hits in the first game and a homer in the second game. Ridderbusch was the only other player to collect a hit in the first game. McGinnis, Mullikin, and White all added hits in the the second game.
Rhinelander will host a non-conference triangular Friday afternoon at Pioneer Park. First RHS will take on Crandon at 1:30P and will face Ashland in the final game, at approxiamately 5:30P. Crandon and Ashland will play in the middle game that will begin 30 minutes after the first game in finished up. RHS will then return to their GNC schedule Monday when they host Antigo and will have a doubleheader at Lakeland on Tuesday.