HIBBING — The Hibbing American Legion baseball team is 2-2 on the season, and Post 222 manager Adam Schafer is happy with the progress.
Hibbing will be put to the test today, however, when it takes on West Duluth in a 6 p.m., contest at Al Nyberg.
The Post 71 Cubs are comprised of players from Duluth Denfeld and Marshall, teams that advanced to state in their respective classes this season.
The Hilltopper players probably won’t be attending the game because they will play for a state title on Thursday against Minnehaha Academy.
The Hunter players will be prepared to play as they lost Monticello in the quarterfinals, then in the consolation bracket, Denfeld lost to Marshall.
Post 222 has wins over Superior and Esko. The two losses are to Superior and Lakeview.
Even so, Schafer has seen steady improvement from his squad, especially on offense.
“We are swinging the bats well,” Schafer said. “The top of our order is setting the tone for the rest of the lineup, and we’re running the bases aggressively.
“In those last couple of innings against Esko, we put some pressure on them, and forced them to make some plays they were unable to make. That was nice to see.”
Schafer has seen some other improvements as well.
“Against Esko, we didn’t boot the ball around that much,” Schafer said. “We picked it up. That first inning we did give them a free one, then we said, ‘This is the only free one they’re getting all game.’ It was.
“Other than that, Esko hit the ball and put some pressure on us, but defensively, I thought we were much more improved from when we first played in the Superior doubleheader at the beginning of the year.”
This game is important because Hibbing is 0-1 in district play, so Post 222 will try to even that record against West Duluth.
“To be sitting at 2-2 at this point, we’re feeling good about ourselves,” Schafer said.
Schafer knows the Post 71 will be tough, but that might not matter because of the Hunters’ resume´ this season.
“I would anticipate that those Marshall kids won’t be available,” Schafer said. “They do have three Division I kids. Denfeld went to state, so they’re talented regardless. We’ll have to play a perfect ball game in order to beat them.
“It’ll be an important game to beat them.”
To have to step up that challenge will only make Post 222 a better team.
“It’s a great early-season challenge for our guys,” Schafer said. “We’re sitting at 2-2, so for them to be able to come out against probably a top-three team in the district, will be a good indicator as to where we’re at.
“We’re feeling good but this one will tell us if we should be feeling good or if we should be feeling bad. If we get 10-runned, then we have some work to do. If we keep it close or we win the ball game, then we know we’re right in the mix. This will be a key indicator early in the season, but there’s a lot of summer left.”