June 27, 2022 at 10:03 p.m.
“It felt really good, and all of our hard work and time spent practicing meant something and paid off,” Hinckley said. “We were the first softball team in our school’s history to win state.”
Hinckley is the only sophomore on the team and lives on her family’s 500-cow dairy near Chatfield. She is the daughter of Matt and Alicia Hinckley who also farm 5,000 acres of corn, soybean and alfalfa.
On the farm, Hinckley helps give family members rides to and from equipment, brings food to family members who are in the field and feeds calves ages 5 days to 6 months old. Calves are then moved to a local heifer raiser.
“I feed them in the summer, winter or whenever I am available,” Hinckley said.
On the field, she plays first base and has been playing softball for six years.
The head softball coach is Jerry Chase.
“To win, we needed players who played well, and she was one of them,” Chase said. “She is left-handed and very talented. She had no errors this whole season, threw four hits and was fifth in our lineup.”
The 28-2 team defeated Mounds Park Academy 8-5, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 3-1 and Proctor High School to win the state softball championship at the Caswell Park in North Mankato.
Hinckley said the team worked hard and was dedicated.
“I was surprised and excited because the seniors had wanted to get this for a while,” Hinckley said. “I know the whole town is proud of us.”
The team practiced year-round by using local football domes in the winter.
“We are never not touching a softball, so we never lost the game,” she said. “We’re always working hard and practicing together.”
Hinckley was even able to open up her dad’s shop two days a week in the winter for the team to practice hitting and pitching.
Her coach said it made a difference.
“She had seven or eight girls practicing in that shop, and I believe that is what helped them do well,” Chase said.
Practice was essential but so were pre-game rituals for this state-champion team. Before each game, Hinckley said the team put on the same eye black and prayed with their assistant coach, Kelsey Lueck.
“It brought us closer, put our minds into the game and calmed our nerves so we were ready,” Hinckley said.
Hinckley’s favorite play of the championship game was when their pitcher, Claire Springer, struck out the last batter for the final out.
“We all just ran together and celebrated,” she said. “It was relieving, and we were all crying because we were so happy.”
Her personal highlight this season was being a starter on the team as a sophomore and receiving all-conference and all-section. Last year, she was a starter as a freshman and also received all-conference.
“I’ve worked really hard both off and on season to play with these girls,” Hinckley said. “All the girls on the team are like my best friends, and the game is a lot more fun to play when you are playing with your friends.”
Hinckley is thankful for her parents, who put their money and time into her love for softball and decorating the bus, as well as the hitting coach.
Chase, on the other hand, is thankful to have Hinckley on his team.
“She works hard in school and on the team, and is one of our key kids,” he said. “Hinckley is very dedicated and not one to miss a practice. It’s not often you have a girl like that around.”
Hinckley credits her work ethic on the softball team to what she has learned from being involved on her family’s farm.
“Working on the farm has taught me to work hard, dedicate myself to something and never give up,” she said.
The team lost five seniors this year but has already started practices and games for the summer season.
“We have a completely new team, and it’ll be different,” Hinckley said. “But if we all work hard, we’ll be just fine.”
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