HIBBING — The Hibbing U14 fastpitch softball team opened up its summer season on Monday at the Bennett Park Softball Field in Hibbing by splitting a doubleheader with Virginia.

Hibbing lost the first game by an 8-4 score but then rebounded in the second game to take a 12-6 victory.

“It was our first games, our first doubleheader so we had some first-game jitters,” said Josh McDowell, who coaches the Hibbing squad along with Joel Maki. “Once that was done we came back and played a solid game.”

Hannah Walto took the loss on the mound for Hibbing in the first game and Rylie Forbord was the winning pitcher in the second game. McDowell said both pitchers performed well on the mound.

As coach of the team, McDowell said he wants to see members of the team push themselves as far as they can go.

“Win or lose, it doesn’t matter,” McDowell explained. “But I want to see them putting that effort in.”

McDowell said a big emphasis is put on teaching the athletes the fundamentals needed to be successful in softball. He added that developing pitching also is a big emphasis.

“Developing pitching is very important and that is the one thing that we take pretty seriously,” McDowell said. “We try to make sure we are working with pitchers as early as we can.

“And we go back to the basics by teaching the fundamentals and try to add on that. My big thing is if we make an error that we go to damage control and we don’t continue to make any more errors and adding onto it. I am a firm believer that no matter how good you are you are going to make errors and you are going to have mistakes here and there.

“We just try to learn from them and not let them compile to something further.”

The U14 team will play six doubleheaders and in two tournaments this summer. With such a short high school season in the spring, McDowell said it is important for softball players to get out onto the field during the summer.

“Summer softball is important; we get two-and-a-half months for the summer softball season compared to the school season which can be pretty short with the weather,” McDowell said.

Hibbing will be in action today in Chisholm where it will play a doubleheader.

“I am super happy with the girls,” McDowell said. “I am really happy with how they came out for the second game and got rid of the jitters.”

The Hibbing U14 team has 17 members as there are enough players for one team but not for two. There are two U12 teams and two U10 teams from Hibbing, in addition to a U-8 team.

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