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Prep softball: Freshman part of loaded Redskins lineup

By Nick Brockman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Opposing pitchers look long and hard for the weak spot in the Hurricane softball lineup. With so many underclassmen, it would be expected there are a few, but that's not the case, especially with No. 8 hitter freshman Maddie Hebb.

Six underclassmen lined the batting order for the Redskins in the team's 13-0 win at St. Albans last Thursday, with perhaps none more threatening than one of the squad's youngest players in Hebb.

"I think she plays a lot and works hard and listens well, a good kid," Hurricane Coach Josh Caldwell said of Hebb. "The same goes for all of our kids. It's one of the best teams we've had and everybody listens, does their job, comes to work and it's no different with her. She wants to do well and listens. She's been killing it, hitting the ball real well lately."

The left-handed hitting Hebb finished Thursday's game 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI. Earlier in the week, Hebb posted the same line, but with three RBI in Hurricane's 4-1 win against Riverside.

Hebb said she feels proud to contribute to the team's success at such a young age.

"It feels really good," she said. "It's an honor. I'm just trying to step up and show that I'm just as much in the game as the seniors are."

Hebb's talent and role as the No. 8 hitter speaks to just how much offensive firepower the Redskins boast.

Caldwell said Hebb and fellow freshman Amber Null, the team's No. 9 hitter, have excelled at their spots in the batting order. At times, he said he considered placing them higher in the lineup, but eventually opted against it.

"There's times I've felt maybe I should move them up, but I like them there," he said. "They're comfortable there, I think. It's hard to find a place to move them, because we've got really good hitters in front of them, too.

"I tell them it's one through nine, it's everybody's job to hit no matter where they're at. We don't feel like anybody's a nine hitter or one hitter on our team, because everybody's hitting the ball so well."

That lesson's not lost on Hebb.

"When we have such a stacked team, it doesn't really matter where you hit," she said, "because I believe in all my players that I know everyone's going to hit the ball."

Whether it's at the plate or in the field, Caldwell said he knows he can count upon Hebb, who plays outfield and occasionally pitches, too, in addition to her first base duties.

"She plays within herself, doesn't try to do too much," he said.

"She's (had) eight or 10 or 12 doubles in the past few weeks. She hits the ball solid, doesn't try to kill it, just a good line-drive hitter and somebody who doesn't strike out much. She walked (Thursday). She's patient at the plate. That's what you like to have. She's going to be a good hitter."

Beyond natural talent, Caldwell said Hebb possesses the right attitude and mindset to achieve success.

"I think she works really hard," he said, "but she's obviously got some ability. She's a strong kid, works really hard, listens, takes what you offer. She's teachable, a good kid to have."

With so much to build upon and years to come in her career, Hebb's freshman success may signal just the beginning.

"If she keeps working, she could do a lot of good things," Caldwell said. "There's no doubt."


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