HIBBING — The Hibbing Community College softball team could only muster one win last year.
The Cardinals were young, and it was Jenna Massingill first year as coach.
With one more year of recruiting under her belt, Massingill is hoping year No. 2 runs more smoothly and produces more victories than 2018 did.
Hibbing has only been practicing for one week, but the Cardinals will take the field on Friday, March 29, at the Irish Dome in Rosemount for their first games of the season.
“Last year, we were a new team,” Massingill said. “I had four or five girls who had never played softball before, and we only had 10 or 11 on the team. We were inexperienced. It wasn’t the best, but we made it through.”
That means there’s nowhere to go but up, and this team has more experience to get the job done.
“We’re looking good,” Massingill said. “I have 14 women. We’ve only had a week of practice, but they’re already improving. It’s a strong team with a lot of hard workers. It’s going to be interesting.”
The sophomore class consists of Emily Anderson, Stacie Lokken, Madeline Manner and Allison Gordon.
“I need leadership out of them. That’s a big thing,” Massingill said. “With all of the freshmen I have coming in, they’re used to high-school ball, so they’re not used to playing doubleheaders two or three times a week.”
Lokken will handle the catching duties, which makes the Cardinals strong behind the plate.
“She will be my voice on the field,” Massingill said. “She’s our leadoff/slapper, so we’re looking for her to get on base, and steal some bases.”
The freshmen class consists of Shaina Olson, Jen Flaten, Joy LaBine, Alexis Desjarlait, Madeline Mann, Savannah Deragon, Sophie Howard, Megan Bilese, Hannah Wentlund and Bethany Baldwin.
“It’s been interesting,” Massingill said. “Three or four of them have never played, but they’re looking promising. They’re athletic girls. My other freshmen, they’re the main part of my infield, so I’m looking for them to step up quickly and make plays for us.”
Massingill believes her defense will be solid, especially in the infield.
“Our outfield, we’ll try a few different rotations, but I have enough girls in the outfield that we can figure it out,” Massingill said.
Pitching-wise, Desjarlait, who was on the Region XIII women’s basketball championship team, will be the main hurler for the Cardinals. Olson will be second in the pecking order.
“Shaina threw a little bit for Cherry in her younger years,” Massingill said. “I haven’t seen Alexis pitch yet, but she has a couple movement pitches. We should be alright there. It’s going to be tough, but she’s hard worker.
“She wants to be here. She’ll do what she has to do to get the job done out there.”
Offensively, Massingill believes her team will put up some runs.
“I know we’ll have some speed on the bases this year compared to last year,” she said. “I’m looking for a lot more stolen bases. We do have quite a bit of power coming from our freshmen. We should be good at the plate.”
If everything comes together, then Hibbing should have a better year than last year.
“Our goal is to make it to the conference tournament, but we would like to get a few more wins,” Massingill said. “Our smallest goal is to be .500, but we’re always looking for that No. 1 seed, and to get into the tournament.”