HIBBING — Four years ago, a youth fastpitch softball tournament was conducted in Hibbing for the first time in an attempt to give local girls an opportunity to play against more difficult competition from other communities.
The tournament started as a six-team 10U tournament during that first year, and the tournament has had as many as 28 teams and three age divisions in the summer of 2017. The tournament – known as the Red Ore Rumble – will be conducted for the fifth straight year on Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29. All games will be played at Vic Power Park in Hibbing.
This year, the tournament will consist of two age divisions and a total of 16 teams. There will be eight teams playing in both the 12U and 14U divisions.
“We are happy that we have eight teams in each division this year,” said Jeremy Jukich, one of the directors of the tournament and a youth coach. “We had a few teams that had to drop out due to injuries and lack of players but we are happy with the teams we have. We have teams coming from the Duluth area, Superior, Wis., Cloquet, and local teams from the Chisholm, Grand Rapids and Virginia areas.
“There will be some pretty competitive softball. We hope all the teams have fun and hopefully people can come to support it by watching and cheering on the kids and maybe buy something from the concession stand.”
Jukich said the tournament will have quality officiating with well-known area umpires Babe Glumack, Brian Karich, Dave Simons and a yet to be determined umpire slated to work the games.
Besides the games, concessions and a dunk tank will be present.
“We are going to have a dunk tank this year with all the proceeds being donated to a local cancer fund,” Jukich said.
Jukich said the tournament is a good thing for the community in many ways.
“We started out with six teams and a 10U tournament that first year and it has steadily grown. We are getting a lot of support and we are very happy with where we are at right now,” Jukich explained. “This is going to bring people in from out of town and they are going to be staying at the hotels and spending some money, too.
“I think it is good for the Iron Range that softball is not only developing in our community but it also gives everybody else across the Iron Range an opportunity to develop their programs playing against some good competition. I think that’s important for all of us.”
Jukich said the competition that the local girls face in the tournament can only help them for the future.
“We just need to see that competition,” Jukich said. “We have one Hibbing team in the 12U tournament and we have three Hibbing teams in the 14U tournament. We have seen with the current group of 14U players that we have that when we expose them to a lot of talented competition in the past few years, they have developed by leaps and bounds, in my opinion.”
The two-day tournament starts Saturday with pool play beginning at approximately 9 a.m. Bracket play will be conducted on Sunday with the tournament championship round concluding at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday. There will be Gold and Silver brackets with the top-seeded teams from pool play advancing to the Gold Bracket and the lower-seeded teams playing in the Silver Bracket.
“Every team is going to be guaranteed five games. We are happy that it has turned into a two-day tournament now,” Jukich said.
The public is invited to attend; there is no charge for admission.