Birmingham Groves softball coach Brian Baldridge, left, and Claire Higley talk at third base during a May 10 game against Southfield A&T. The Falcons are in line for an Oakland Activities Association Blue Division title.

Birmingham Groves softball coach Brian Baldridge, left, and Claire Higley talk at third base during a May 10 game against Southfield A&T. The Falcons are in line for an Oakland Activities Association Blue Division title.

Photo by Donna Dalziel


Groves softball striving for a title

By: Edward Zilincik | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 14, 2018

BIRMINGHAM — The Birmingham Groves softball team is fighting hard this season to win the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division title. The Falcons had a 13-6 overall record and were undefeated in their division at press time.

Despite the youth on the team, which features just one senior, the Falcons are in great position to meet their team goals, as they were tied atop the OAA Blue with West Bloomfield High at press time.

Groves set goals before the season to win the OAA Blue Division and to also make it out of the district round of the playoffs.

In addition to the youth on the team, the program has gone through a bit of instability in recent years. The Falcons have had five different coaches in the past six seasons.

Coach Brian Baldridge understands that building a program with tradition is a process.

“When you have that much fluctuation, it can be difficult for people on the team,” Baldridge said. “Trust is important, so when there is that much change, players aren’t sure what exactly to buy into.”

Baldridge has grown the program from a team that only finished with four wins two seasons ago to a team that is now in contention for a division title.

“Losing is a hard habit to break,” Baldridge said. “We wanted the program to reset expectations and to have a family atmosphere here. When you play for Birmingham Groves, we want that attitude to extend beyond the softball field.”

The success for the program has extended beyond the field, as the Falcons have a collective 3.83 team GPA, which is No. 1 in Division 1.

As far as the current team and its fortunes, Baldridge has been impressed with the overall composition of the team.

“This is one of the most selfless teams I’ve ever coached,” Baldridge said. “We all take care of each other here, but the team also pushes themselves, they are dedicated, and they make me want to be the best coach I can be.”

Baldridge feels the team does a number of things well on the field. One aspect of the game he feels the team excels at is its base-running.

Junior Claire Higley also feels great about what the team is doing on and off the softball diamond.

“Our goal here is to win the league and make it out of districts, and so far we are living up to those goals,” Higley said. “We still have a ton of work to do, but we feel fortunate to be in the situation we are in.”

Higley agrees with Baldridge’s point about the team and the aspects of the game it excels at as well.

“Another aspect I feel we excel at is our defense,” Higley said. “We try to put pressure on the other team to make the perfect play on the base paths, but we also field everything on the infield on defense and have great arms in the outfield.”

Groves next takes the field for a doubleheader against Birmingham Seaholm May 21. Game 1 is set for 4:30 p.m.