A rough season for the Rhinelander High School softball team continued Saturday at Baraboo.
The Hodags went winless in an invitational, with two of the games called after four innings due to the 15-run rule.
The Hodags went the distance with Baraboo, losing 12-4 in the opener, but then fell to Westfield 17-1 and Columbus 15-0.
"We just need to try to refocus," coach D.J. DeMeyer said afterward. "It's difficult to do in a season like this year, but that's what I hope we can do in the last week of the season here is refocus and put together some good games."
The day got off to a rough start as Baraboo plated eight runs in the first inning, added by a couple of Rhinelander errors.
The teams played even from the second inning on. The Thunderbirds scored single runs in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings while the Hodags scored one in the third, one in the fourth and two in the fifth.
Hannah Worachek walked, stole second and scored on a Mikayla Evenstad single in the third. Alexis Engelking walked, stole two bases and scored on an overthrow in the fourth. Engelking hit a two-out, two-run single in the fifth to score Evenstad and Sophia McGinnis, who reached on errors earlier in the inning.
"Our first game we gave up eight runs in the first inning but it shouldn't have been that much. In reality, if we make the plays that are in front of us, we give up maybe one run or none," DeMeyer said. "What the girls don't realize is the game's a lot closer than they think if they just make the plays that are in front of them."
Rhinelander was overpowered by Westfield pitching in the second game, with 11 of their 12 outs coming via the strikeout. The Hodags' run came in the third as Worachek singled and eventually scored on a passed ball. Evenstad and Sierra Woodford had the only two hits for the Hodags in the contest.
Westfield jumped on Rhinelander for seven runs in the first inning and six in the second before ending the game with four runs in the fourth.
"When we got to the second game, we just had no life. The girls were kind of out of it," DeMeyer said. "Westfield had some decent pitching, some of the hardest pitching we've seen all year. Credit to them, they had some good pitching and they hit the ball."
Columbus silenced Rhinelander's bats in the third game, tossing a four-inning no-hitter against the Hodags. Columbus scored four times in the first, four more times in the second and six in the third before clinching it with a run in the fourth. Despite getting hit hard, DeMeyer said he was pleased to see some improvement defensively in the third game.
"We made some plays that normally we don't make and I was happy about that," he said. "They were effort plays. I can handle losing a game if the effort is there. If the effort's not there, that's when I get frustrated."
The Hodags will close out the regular season today with a doubleheader against No. 2 (D2) Mosinee, before opening the WIAA playoffs at home Thursday against Ashland. Should the Hodags win Thursday's game, they would have to travel back to Mosinee May 21 for a regional semifinal contest.
"We'll see where we're at, physically and mentally. It's a new season," DeMeyer said. "We're 1-14, it's pretty difficult on them, too. Hopefully this is a life lesson for them that you've got to work hard, you've got to focus on what you're doing and you can get through everything."
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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