Center Line High School softball celebrates its regional championship win over Detroit Mumford on June 11 at Hazel Park High School.

Center Line High School softball celebrates its regional championship win over Detroit Mumford on June 11 at Hazel Park High School.

Photo provided by Dennis Limberger

Center Line softball culture brings ‘brand-new team’ mentality

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Warren Weekly | Published June 22, 2022


CENTER LINE — There’s a culture change afoot for Center Line softball and the players bought in, showcasing an impressive performance this season.

Center Line’s season ended in a 12-1 loss to Trenton in the Michigan High School Athletic Association quarterfinals on June 14 at Trenton High School, but the team took a step forward both on and off the field.

In Dennis Limberger’s first season as head coach, Center Line softball achieved something that has been done by the team only once before.

Center Line defeated Detroit Mumford 16-0 on June 11 in the Region 14 championship at Hazel Park High School to not only earn its first regional title since 2015, but just the second in school history.

Coach Limberger reiterated one thing to his team entering this season.

“We worked with them all winter and got them to believe in themselves,” Limberger said. “We didn’t just want to tell them they were going to be better, we wanted to show them they were going to be better.”

Center Line, a Macomb Area Conference Gold division school, struggled in the middle of the season facing teams such as Fraser, Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse, and Warren Cousino, but the ladies responded when it mattered most.

Limberger said his team welcomed the difficult schedule.

“We went after the bigger names; I want to play the better teams to show them what they need to do to be better,” Limberger said. “Once they started believing in themselves, they believed they could beat any team.”

Center Line ended its season on an eight-game win streak to finish the season 16-14, and it carried that momentum into the playoffs. Outscoring its opponents 72-4 in four games, both sides of the field were dominant en route to the team’s regional championship win.

Center Line finished 28-3 last season losing in the regional championship game, but this team had a different feel to it.

“I think we’ve gotten a lot closer over the season,” senior Alyson Allport said. “It felt like a brand-new team.”

Allport led the offensive charge, hitting .473 with 43 hits alongside junior Harley Limberger, who led the team in average (.547), hits (52), doubles (17), triples (7), home runs (5), and RBIs (57).

Center Line featured five hitters batting over .400 in Limberger, Allport, sophomore Isabella Oscoy (.443), junior Ella Lautenbac (.434), and sophomore Raina Velasquez (.404). Lautenbac added 43 hits while Velasquez tallied four home runs on the season. Junior Mariana Ochoa hit .381 this season.

Velasquez’s six at-bats last season turned into a complete resurgence this year featuring a home run in the regional semifinals against Harper Woods, and hitting two home runs in one game earlier this season.

“She’s just grown as a player,” Limberger said.

Velasquez is one of many players who took on an expanded role this year including junior starting pitcher Allison Woolsey. Woolsey pitched only four innings last year, but became a workhorse this year for Center Line, throwing 100 innings. Junior Savannah Kutch contributed consistent innings, as well.

Limberger said he wanted every player to have a part in the team’s success this season.

“One of the biggest things is nobody is above the team,” Limberger said. “We don’t have captains. We have leaders.

“That’s what we’re trying to sell: pride in the team, pride in the school, and pride in themselves,” Limberger said.

Allport will be the lone graduate as Center Line will return 11 players from last year’s squad.

Center Line has established itself as a team open to any challenge with players who have progressed each season.

Earning a regional title this season brought nothing but excitement for the young team working hard towards next season’s goal.

“It’s honestly pretty cool,” Harley Limberger said. “We’re already in the quarterfinals, and just thinking that we could be back here next year and even better than we are as a team is exciting.”