The Rhinelander High School softball team played two games on back-to-back night against the same team with vastly different results.
The Hodags kept Medford in touch most of the way Monday before losing to the Raiders 6-1 in Medford. Tuesday's rematch was much different as the Raiders scored 12 runs between the third, fourth and fifth innings and got a perfect game from pitcher Rachel Mudgett in a 13-0 shutout.
"Yesterday we played a lot better than we did today," Rhinelander coach D.J. DeMeyer said. "We lost 6-1, but it was a closer game. We hit the ball better. We had some opportunities to score runs. We just didn't get the big hits."
Medford 6, Hodags 1
The Hodags hung with Medford on Monday night, but ultimately stranded too many baserunners in a 6-1 loss in Medford.
Rhinelander left eight on base in Monday's game, six of whom were in scoring position.
Three players did virtually all of the damage for Medford. Brynn Rau was 3-for-3 with three RBIs. Rau, Alex Nicks and Kiersten Crass combined for all seven Raider hits.
Nicks started a two-out rally for the Raiders in the first. She singled, stole second and scored on a Rau base hit to give Medford a 1-0 lead. The score remained that way until the fourth. Rau singled and scored on a Delani Clausnitzer grounder. Then with two outs, Ryann Ruesch walked, stole second and scored on a Crass single. Crass scored two batters later on a wild pitch to give Medford a 4-0 lead.
Rhinelander tried to make a comeback in the fifth as Hannah Worachek, Mikayla Evenstad and Sophia McGinnis all reached on consecutive one-out errors. Worachek scored on McGinnis' misplayed grounder to short, but Rhinelander couldn't get anything else in the inning as Brylee Ridderbusch struck out and Alex Oestreich grounded out to short.
Medford promptly tacked on two more insurance runs in the bottom of the inning on a two-run double by Rau.
"I was very happy with our play yesterday," DeMeyer said. "Brylee pitched good. Haylie did the best she could do behind the plate. They were able to steal bases on us and they got a lot of runs. They were able to steal second and third and then either a passed ball or a timely hit, and that's how they got their runs."
Ridderbusch took the loss for Rhinelander, allowing six runs on six hits over four-plus innings. Oestreich allowed a hit in two innings of scoreless relief. She also doubled twice in the contest, collecting two of Rhinelander's five hits in the contest.
"She hit the ball really hard yesterday," DeMeyer said. "She hit two to right center and they had no chance to get them. It was nice to see her hit the ball, and she pitched good when she came in yesterday."
Medford 13, Hodags 0
Medford broke Tuesday's game open with a few big innings, but it turned out a single run in the second was all the Raiders needed as Mudgett shut down Rhinelander with three strikeouts and 12 ground ball outs.
Ridderbusch had two strong chances to break up Mudgett's perfect game bid. In the second she hit a sharp ground ball that deflected off Mudgett's glove, but the carom when straight to Erin Elsner at second, who was able to make the throw to first in time to get the out. Leading off the fifth, Ridderbusch his a line drive to third that Katie Lybert dropped, but she recovered in time to make the throw to first to get the force out.
Moments later Oestreich hit a flare barely foul down the right field line. Mudgett eventually got her and Alexis Engelking to ground out to complete the percent game.
DeMeyer said he was puzzled as to why the Hodags weren't able to get on base Tuesday.
"I just don't think we were seeing the ball well," he said. "I don't think she moves the ball a lot. She throws a change up sparingly. She's up and down (in the zone), but not a lot of movement, like a curve or anything like that. I don't have answers for our girls not hitting the ball. They just saw her yesterday and they hit her hard."
Rau, Nicks and Crass continued to victimize the Hodags at the plate, collecting eight RBIs Tuesday. Rau had a two-run single and Crass added a two-run double that gave Medford a 5-0 lead in the third. The Raiders scored five more in the fourth - the final two runs coming on four straight two-out hits - and three in the fifth.
Ridderbusch allowed five runs on four hits over three innings to take the loss. Oestreich allowed eight runs on six hits over the final two innings, but only one of those runs was earned thanks to a trio of Rhinelander errors.
The Hodags return to action Saturday and are slated to play three games in an invite at Baraboo.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Northwoods River News | Walker Communications, LLC 232 S. Courtney Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501 | Office (715) 365-6397 | Fax (715) 365-6361
Corporate billing office: The Lakeland Times / Lakeland Printing Inc. | P.O. Box 790, Minocqua, WI 54548 | (715) 356-5236 | Fax (715) 358-2121 Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Community Papers, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce