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April 2, 2013

Liggett softball to enter season with lofty ambitions

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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Liggett’s Julia DeRoo is one of six seniors on the Knights’ softball roster.

Having coached a high school baseball program in Oklahoma to two state titles, Liggett softball coach Ted Alpert has seen what winning teams looks like.

And while he can’t say for sure how far it will take them, Alpert thinks the Knights have the talent in place to have a special season of their own.

Apparently, he is not alone.

According to Alpert, Liggett is ranked as the No. 9 team in the state amongst Division 4 programs.

Alpert is not shying away from creating big goals for his team.

“I expect them to achieve at the highest level this year,” he said. “I suspect they will be a (state semifinal) 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.”

Alpert isn’t likely to get any arguments from junior Emma Nicholas, a transfer from Fraser, in regards to expecting big things from the Knights.

“To win districts, regionals (and) states,” she said of the goals for the season. “But I think it’s just good for us to come together as a team and be well-rounded. I think we have a really good team this year.”

In order to help try to help turn those goals into reality, Alpert is looking to his senior starters to lead the way. All-State first baseman Julia DeRoo, All-State third baseman Amber Baldwin, infielder Courtney Slabaugh and pitcher Ashley Tengler represent the Knights’ senior class, and Alpert has expectations for them in that role.

“I expect the seniors to provide the leadership and set the bar for teamwork, which will enable us to go far in the tournament and win our conference, as well,” he said.”

Before Liggett has the opportunity to try to make a strong postseason run, there is the matter of league play to attend to. The Knights compete in the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference, and aside from just finishing at the top of it, Alpert wants to do so in convincing fashion.

“We would want to be the undefeated MIAC champion,” he said. “But it will be hard because Southfield Christian is always a tough nut. Inter-City Baptist has a good pitcher, and they’re well coached. Lutheran Northwest is also well coached. Parkway Christian is well coached. Our MIAC schedule is not easy.”

While Alpert’s first order of business centers around a successful season, he has also given thought to his long-term ambitions for the program. And he’s not exactly thinking small.

“We are trying to establish this program as one of the best ones in the state,” he said. “For us to be considered a top program, we need to be in the regional final every year. That would be my standard for what makes a good program.”

Liggett is scheduled to open the regular-season portion of its schedule at 4:30 p.m. April 4 in a road game against Allen Park Cabrini.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.