Liggett softball falls to Clinton

Knights postseason run ends in state quarters

By: Thomas Franz | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 17, 2014

 University Liggett senior Emma Nicholas waits for a pitch during a Division 3 state quarterfinal on June 10.

University Liggett senior Emma Nicholas waits for a pitch during a Division 3 state quarterfinal on June 10.

Photo by Thomas Franz

CHELSEA — A year after making it to the state semifinals in Division 4, University Liggett’s softball team had a chance to make it back to the state semifinals, this time in Division 3.

Clinton, the 2011 and 2012 state champions in D-3, denied the Knights that opportunity by defeating Liggett 12-5 in a MHSAA state quarterfinal played on June 10 at Chelsea High School.

“We played a pretty good game. We didn’t play our best game. They are incredibly strong one through nine, and the bottom third of their order punished us,” Liggett coach Ted Alpert said.

The Knights took a 1-0 lead to the second inning, as Angelia Evangelista scored on an infield single by Anna Mejewski.

Clinton’s powerful offense then woke up in the second inning, as Kris Forest hit a grand slam to cap off a six-run inning for the Redskins.

Liggett kept pace, scoring three runs in the third. Emily Kanakry’s double to center brought in two runs to make it 6-4 Clinton.

“My bottom third put the ball in play. I think we had one strikeout. When we beat good teams, it’s because they get on and then the big girls just start hitting the ball,” Alpert said.

Clinton went on to control the rest of the game by scoring two runs apiece in the next three innings while shutting out Liggett until the Knights scored one run in the seventh inning.

The win sent the Redskins back to the state semifinals for the fifth time in six years, with their lone finish outside of the semifinals coming in 2013.

“It feels a lot better than last year,” Clinton coach Kim Phillip said. “We sat around and we were asking, ‘Softball is over. What are we supposed to do?’ It just wasn’t something that we were used to, so this feels better.”

Alpert knew coming into the quarterfinal that it would take a nearly perfect game from his team to defeat Clinton.

“My pitcher goes out there, and she must hit her spots exactly right, and it’s hard against a team like that,” Alpert said. “It’s hard for us to fool their order two or three times, so we have to get eight to 10 runs in the first three innings then hang on.”

Despite the loss, Alpert was proud of the season that Liggett had.

“I told them that in many ways, they had overachieved,” Alpert said. “It didn’t go our way today. I wasn’t ready to quit playing because of our two seniors (Evangelista and Emma Nicholas). I really wanted to coach them two more games.”

Nicholas will be playing softball at Cleveland State University, while Evangelista will play at Kalamazoo College.

“The thing I like about Evangelista and Nicholas is that they like winning, but they despise losing — they really do. That’s what makes them great competitors,” Alpert said. “They really have done a great job for us. We couldn’t have been nearly as successful without them.”

“I don’t think there’s been a more complete player in our program than Nicholas, and I’m not sure if there’s a better center fielder in Michigan than Evangelista.”

Liggett closed its season at 25-10. Clinton (34-4) advanced to the state semifinals, but fell to unbeaten Unionville-Sebewaing 7-5.