SOUTHFIELD — It was a bit sooner than he had expected the season to end, but Royal Oak Shrine softball coach Rick Steinmetz was plenty proud of his squad all the same.
The Knights lost to Wixom St. Catherine 4-1 May 31 at Southfield Christian in a Division 4 district final.
The majority of the players who walked off the field that day for the last time had been with Steinmetz for the past four seasons.
“The (seniors) have been great; all eight of them contributed,” the coach said. “We had three of the best captains I’ve had in several years. They all worked hard, and they played together. That’s all you can ask. Coaching the group of them, it’s like sending your daughters away or something. It’s a hard thing to do.”
All eight were four-year varsity members, and six of them started as freshmen, including Rosie Konzal.
“It’s like my second family, really. I looked forward to going to practice every day, playing with them. We had our troubles here and there, but these are my girls. I love them,” she said. “Mostly, I’m just going to miss the girls. The playing, yeah, but it’s not the same if it’s not with these girls. I couldn’t pick anyone else to play with.”
Against St. Catherine, the Knights failed to mount much of an offense, as Erin Kissick’s triple that scored Konzal was their only run of the game.
“We knew it was going to be very tough and that we couldn’t make a mistake,” Steinmetz said, noting that they had beaten St. Catherine 2-1 earlier in the season. “We just couldn’t catch up to the pitching. They’re a good team, and we knew it.”
Shrine finishes the year 22-7 overall. Steinmetz said that the Knights allowed fewer than 20 total runs and scored more than 150.
“Everyone had a hidden talent on this team,” Konzal said. “Whether they were fast and were a pinch runner, or they’re good fielders. Everyone just had their own way.”
Though the Knights didn’t defend their district title, they did end the year with some hardware. Shrine won the Catholic High School League C-D Division by beating Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes near the end of the season. Shrine lost to Lakes three out of four meetings during the regular season.
It’s their first title since 2008 and third since 1980.
“We said that no matter what happens for the rest of the year, that was our World Series. You don’t get there often, let alone win it,” Steinmetz said. “We got there and winning against Lakes, which is always tough and a battle, that was awesome.”
In other local softball action:
Royal Oak High lost its district opener to Berkley High 3-0 June 1 at Warren Cousino in a D-1 semifinal.
Clawson High played Hazel Park High in a D-2 semifinal at Madison Heights Lamphere after press time.
The winner of the district plays Pontiac Notre Dame Prep at 10 a.m. June 8 at Bloomfield Hills Andover in a regional semifinal.