HIBBING — Last spring, Hibbing High School softball coach Bryan Terzich was hoping his team would take one step forward and advance deeper into the Section 7AAA playoffs.
Unfortunately for the Bluejackets, that never transpired due to COVID-19.
One year later, Terzich still believes this team can make a playoff run as Hibbing sets out to make a name for itself in the 2021 season.
Taking a year off didn’t do much for the Bluejackets’ development, but being one year older and one year stronger, Hibbing could make a run for a 7AAA title.
“It hurt in the sense of development and getting another year under their belts,” Terzich said. “It’s about getting that maturity and playing time, but more importantly, it hurts the team bonding and gelling.
“It’s a team game. It’s about becoming a team. Teams win championships, not individuals. I expected that last year. I thought we’d be better, but now that they’re a year older, more mature, stronger and they get what we’re trying to do, hopefully, that translates onto the field.”
The Bluejackets will be led by seniors Jacie Clusiau (outfield); Maddy Clusiau (infield); Chloe Lamphere (infield); and Maddy Rewertz (outfield.
“We need leadership out of them,” Terzich said. “We need them to produce in every game.”
The same can be said for juniors Megan Bussey (infield); Ayva Terzich (outfield); Bella Scaia (catcher); and Lexi Munger (utility).
Sophomores Madison St. George (infield, catcher); Monroe Rewertz (infield); Emma Kivela (infield); Reese Aune (outfield); Abigail Sullivan (infield); Rylie Forbord (pitcher); and Kali Jukich (pitcher) will add a lot of depth to the team.
“They are fighters,” Terzich said. “There’s a lot of tenacity there. They play hard.”
The lone freshman on the team is pitcher Aune Boben, who see ample mound time, and even though she missed last season, Terzich doesn’t believe she’ll miss a beat this year.
“We’ll use her as long as we can,” Terzich said. “With her mother (Jen), she didn’t miss anything. If the control is there, the speed is there and pitches are there, she will be fantastic.
“We need her to be consistent. I want her to get in there and challenge everybody — all of the three, four and five hitters on each team. I want her to go right at them. She has enough in her arsenal right now to do that. If she gets beat, kudos to them.”
Boben should have the confidence to do that because the seven players behind her, along with Scaia, will be more than capable of picking up the ball.
“We will be absolutely stellar on defense,” Terzich said. “That has been my goal since day one. If we give nothing up, we’ll be in every game. With someone of Aune’s caliber, we’ll be in every game.
“All we have to do is come ready to hit the ball.”
Putting the ball in play shouldn’t be a problem for Hibbing.
Terzich believes this team should hit for power, but if the Bluejackets have to, playing small ball is also an option.
“I’m hoping we have a Minnesota Twins-explosion,” Terzich said. “I have 13 or 14 players that can hit. I have the luxury this year that if somebody is out or not playing well that I can substitute someone into the lineup, and it doesn’t lose its strength.
“We can do small ball. Aune is hard to get out if she bunts. Bella can put down a bunt. She’s probably the best on the team. Ayva is a good bunter. If we have to, we can do it, but our three, four, five, six and seven hitters can drive the gaps and fences.”
If all of that comes to fruition, there’s no reason why Hibbing can’t make a deep playoff run.
“Right now, I don’t have any expectations until we start playing,” Terzich said. “You can be an all-star in the gym, but until you step on the field, it’s a whole-different story. State is the goal.
“With this team and these girls, there’s a chance to make a run, but you have to pick it up, throw it and hit it.”