By Joe Ewert
Despite their best efforts, the Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln Red Raiders could not overcome the scoring parade put on by Merrill on Thursday, May 19.
Merrill put five runs on the board early as the Lincoln girls went to work. They answered one of those runs when Madison Bogie doubled deep to center field and was brought home thanks to another double by sophomore shortstop Chaela West. The drive would stop there as a pair of strikeouts and an infield grounder to Merrill’s shortstop closed out the first inning.
The lead was extended for Merrill when a trio of runs were brought in to start the second inning. Lincoln showed off their defensive skills in the field that inning, however, as center fielder Emily Jungwirth snagged a fly ball while on the run.
They say chicks dig the long ball. Merrill pitcher Taylor Krueger must have had a pair of shovels for Lincoln’s Bogie and Kayla Buss, as the two of them crushed a couple of solo home runs over the left field wall. For Buss, the homer came on the first pitch. She said the pitch was put right where she likes them.
“I was looking for the right pitch and she brought it right away,” said Buss. “It felt good to hit one over the fence because I haven’t been hitting so hot this year.”
Bogie says the two homeruns helped the team which is something a player always wants to try to do, and it takes a lot of practice to hit the ball far.
“It helped the team as much as it could,” said Bogie. “It takes a disciplined hitter. You have to know which ones to swing at and which ones to let go and you have to hit right in the sweet spot of the bat.”
Lincoln appeared to have started another scoring drive after a double past the third baseman but a fly out to center field ended the inning.
A four-run third inning extended Merrill’s lead even more and the Lincoln bats were quieted until the bottom of the fifth inning, when an Anna Radtke base hit to left-center field scored Kailee Jochimsen from second, and Megan Friday’s base hit down the first baseline resulted in a Merrill throwing error that put her on base and also scored Makenna Nieman to bring Lincoln closer to the lead.
A two RBI double by Merrill in the top of the sixth inning extended their lead as Lincoln could not get anything else going, and dropped the final regular season game of the year to a tough Merrill team, 12-5.
Lincoln coach Isaac Holberg says a lack of communication in the field is what hurt the girls most in this loss.
“If you took our errors away, this game would have been a close one,” said Holberg. “We were playing catch-up all the time and they (Merrill) just kept pressing more and more. We’ve been working in practice all season about communicating out there where as focused as they are out there, they need to make sure they hear the other girls calling out fly balls and things like that. We’ve worked on it but for whatever reason it’s still an issue.”
The loss closes out the regular season for Lincoln, but they are not done playing as they have qualified for the WIAA Regional round, with the first game of the post-season coming Wednesday, 25 at 5:30 p.m. at Eau Claire’s Carson Park as the Red Raiders take on Eau Claire Memorial.