Prior to the beginning of the regular season, Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett softball coach Ted Alpert said of his team, “I suspect they will be a final-four team. If we’re not on the bus to Battle Creek, the season will have been a disappointment. I’m pretty sure that discipline and repetition will get us on that bus.”
On the bus Liggett was, as the Knights advanced all the way to the Division 4 state semifinals before losing to Ubly 8-6 at Bailey Park in Battle Creek June 14. Kalamazoo Christian went on to defeat Ubly 16-6 to win a D-4 state title.
Liggett defeated Concord 11-1 in the quarterfinals to advance to the semifinal round of the state playoffs.
Walking away from a campaign as Michigan Independent Athletic Conference (going undefeated, according to Alpert), district and regional champions is nothing to shrug at, and as difficult as it may have been to say goodbye to the season, the team’s accomplishments are not lost on Alpert.
“They never gave up, and that’s what I’m really proud of them for,” he said of Liggett’s semifinal game. “My hat’s off to Ubly and the eventual champion, Kalamazoo Christian. I told the girls, ‘You can’t let one game color your perspective of the whole year.’ Our girls worked really, really hard this year, and it paid off. Overall, I think they accomplished everything we set out to. Didn’t get the big prize, but we had an incredible journey together.
“I told (them), 30 years from now, you probably won’t remember the scores of any of these games, but you will remember the times you spent with your teammates and all the work, effort and love that went into getting that far.”
The players who will be returning next season may have also gained some invaluable experience. And it is that experience Alpert would like to see his team draw on to help the program continue to trend in the right direction.
“We’re returning six of our nine starters,” he said. “I told (them), ‘Now you know what it takes to get here. You decide for yourself every year, is it worth it?’ I think that’s the lesson they learned is that there’s almost always a positive outcome for working really, really hard. I think this year’s senior class, one thing they have done, they have set the level of commitment.”
Courtney Slabaugh, Ashley Tengler, Elizabeth Stallings, Julia DeRoo, Amber Baldwin and Emma Bandos were Liggett’s senior representatives.