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Redmen pounce on Panthers in opener; earn rematch in Athens

Redmen pounce on Panthers in opener; earn rematch in Athens Redmen pounce on Panthers in opener; earn rematch in Athens


Avery Niemi and Kara Kennedy led a 13-hit attack with three hits apiece while pitcher Josie Scheithauer held Prairie Farm to just one hit in Rib Lake’s 11-1 win Tuesday in a WIAA Division 5 softball regional semifinal.

The third-seeded Lady Redmen jumped ahead with five runs in the second inning and clinched it with a fourrun fifth that ended the game via the 10run rule. The win was Rib Lake’s first in the post-season since 2018 and improved the team’s 2023 mark to 15-4.

Rib Lake’s reward is a short trip to second-seeded Athens for a regional final game today, Thursday. The Blue Jays went undefeated in the Marawood North this year, swept Rib Lake in an April 28 doubleheader and come into today’s game at 14-7.

“It was a nice win and a good way to end it on a walk-off, two-run single,” Rib Lake head coach Craig Scheithauer said. “Now we get Athens, which is what we expected, not that we were looking ahead, but it was expected.”

Sixth-seeded Prairie Farm came into Tuesday’s game at 8-5 and had just had a six-game winning streak snapped by Northwood-Solon Springs in their regular- season finale on May 16. Rib Lake’s offense went down quietly in the bottom of the first and almost did in the second as well with Rhonnie Jo Scheithauer’s line-drive bullet getting caught at first base and Josie Scheithauer popping out.

But Leah Chmielowiec singled and stole second to get a two-out rally going. She scored on Kiana Dallmann’s double to left-center. Lily Butler reached on an error and stole second. Both runners scored when number-nine hitter Kara Kennedy did what she’s seemed to have done all spring, come up with a big runproducing hit. That made it 3-0. Addison Gumz drove in a run on a bunt hit and, after Tahlia Scheithauer walked, Niemi drove in a run with a base hit to cap the five-run rally.

Prairie Farm got on the board in the fourth with a walk and a double, but Rib Lake countered with two in the bottom half, starting with a Kennedy single. Prairie Farm failed to get an out on Gumz’s grounder and that led to Tahlia Scheithauer’s sacrifice fly to deep center and a run-scoring hit from Niemi that made it 7-1.

With two on and two outs in the fifth, Kennedy knocked in both runners with another clutch single to make it 9-1.

“Kara has just been smacking the ball around,” Craig Scheithauer said. “There have been a lot of times where I’ve thought about moving her up, but we’ve kept her in that nine spot because she keeps getting hits there and with girls like Kiana and Leah getting on base ahead of her, it’s given her chances to drive in those runs.” Gumz singled and Tahlia Scheithauer did as well to load them for Niemi, another RBI force for Rib Lake late in the year, who singled to end it.

Kennedy scored three runs and drove in four while going three for three. Niemi was three for four with three RBIs. Gumz was two for four out of the leadoff spot with three runs scored and an RBI. Dallmann was two for three with two runs scored and an RBI.

Josie Scheithauer struck out nine, walked three and allowed just the RBI double in the fourth. Rib Lake did not commit an error, something the team hopes to carry into Athens, where it lost 12-0 and 16-5 in that April twinbill.

“We responded in the second game,” coach Scheithauer said. “We didn’t do enough to win. We had the lead early in the game, so we know we can play with them. We can’t give them seven outs or seven runs in an inning. I think we’ll hit the ball better this time than we did the last time against them. I like our chances with the way we’re playing and hitting the ball now.”

Today’s winner advances to a sectional semifinal Tuesday against either fourth-seeded Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran or top-seeded McDonell Central. The higher seed will host. The sectional final is in Athens on June 1 with a 5 p.m. start.

Before Tuesday, Rib Lake’s last WIAA win was a 10-7 first-round win at Loyal on May 22, 2018.