The Rhinelander High School softball team will advance to the Division 2 WIAA regional semifinal contest after earning an 8-3 win over Ashland. The Hodags collected 12 hits and cruised to a five-run win at Pioneer Park on Thursday evening in a regional quarterfinal. It also marked Rhinelander's second win of the season, the first also coming against the Oredockers.
It took the Hodags the first two innings to adjust their timing at the plate, when they faced pitched Abby Davidson. Once Rhinelander made some minor modifications and patients at the plate they rallied and plated all eight runs after the second inning and collected 10 of their hits.
Starting junior pitcher Alex Oestreich would give up single runs in the first and fourth frame before settling in. Emily Dickrell reached on error to lead off the game and would score on an RBI grounder by Emma Marshland. And Davidson singled and scored on a fielder’s choice in the top of the fourth inning to give the Oredockers an early 2-1 lead.
Rhinelander's first offensive spurt came in the bottom of the fourth when the Hodags came back and scored four runs to take a 5-2 lead. Oestreich led off with a double and advanced to third on a sacrifice from Alexis Engelking. And Haylie Stefonek drove in Oestreich on a single to left field. Kylie White followed with a single and Hannah Worachek walked to load the bases.
The Hodags' lone senior then came up big on two outs and connected on two-RBI single up the middle to put RHS ahead 4-2. Woracheck added another run after an Ashland throwing error on an attempt to pick off Evenstad stealing second.
In the sixth frame, Rhinelander tacked on a few insurance runners in similar fashion. Stefonek started with a double and White followed with a single to place runners on the corners. With no outs Ashland had another throwing error attempting to get White out stealing second, and both runners scored on the play. Sophia McGinnis capped off the scoring later in the inning with an RBI single. The Oredockers did get one run back in the sixth when Dickrell had an RBI single, but the damage was already done.
Oestreich earned the win and scattered four hits while striking out six in five innings of work. Brylee Ridderbusch finished the last two innings for Rhinelander and earned the save.
The Hodags will now be back in Mosinee for a regional semifinal game against the WIAA Division 2 top ranked team in Wisconsin on Tuesday. First pitch is set for 5:00PM at Boulevard Turf Field.