HIBBING — Usually, Chris and Tim Zubich have a VFW baseball team full of 15- and 16-year-olds, but that won’t be the case for the 2019 edition of Post 1221.
That’s right, the Zubichs have some 15- and 16-year-olds, but the majority of the team is made up of 13- and 14-year-olds.
So it’s going to be an interesting season for Hibbing, which opened its season Wednesday with a game in Superior.
It’ll be a season of growing pains for Post 1221, along with learning how to play the game of baseball the right way.
“We’ll take the young that want to be here,” Tim Zubich said. “We’re quite young, but we do have some key returning guys. Those are the guys that have to be our leaders. They may only be 15, but they’ve been around it before.”
Those players consist of Jude Sundquist, Isaac Colbaugh, Payton Forer and Evan Radovich.
“We need them to step up on the mound and behind the plate,” Zubich said. “They have to fill those key roles.”
Some of those pitchers are Sundquist, Colbaugh, Forer, plus Keeghan Fink, Josh Kivela, Liam Bussey, Bryce Warner and Andrew Dragon to name a few.
“Like any level, pitching is up the utmost importance,” Zubich said. “You have to be around the plate. We need to throw two pitches for strikes. You can’t defend a walk. We’ll get better as keep working on it, and they get some mound time.
“If our main pitchers throw as they can, we’ll be OK as long as we pick up the ball defensively. We have a lot of young guys. It’s too early to say what our expectations are, but they got their feet wet (Wednesday). There’s a lot of upside to these guys.”
Defensively, Post 1221 did pick up the ball well against Superior, but that’s still a work in progress, too.
“We’ll be toying around with different guys in different spots,” Zubich said. “We’ll be using different lineups early in the season. We’ll move positions around to see what makes us better defensively.
“We didn’t see many of these guys in the spring. A lot of them played seventh- and eighth-grade baseball.”
Offensively, Zubich said that’s to be determined.
“We have to find ways to put balls in play and eliminate strikeouts,” Zubich said. “There will be some bright spots as they adjust to the speed at this level. There will be guys who will swing it well.
“That will take some time, so we have to be patient and keep working at it.”
Post 1221 will get throwing from the frying pan and into the fire beginning Saturday at the Grand Rapids Tournamenet. Hibbing will take on the Duluth Jacks, beginning at 11 a.m., at Portage Park in Cohasset.
“There’s a lot of good teams in this tournament, so it will be a good test for us,” Zubich said. “The quality of the pitching is the biggest thing. There’s guys that throw it well, but I want our guys to see that.
“This is a work in progress. It always is. We never focus on wins and losses. We focus on how to get wins by doing the little things well, and getting better every day. If we do that, the wins will take care of themselves. We have to have fun, compete and learn. If we do that, we’ll be OK.”