Utica Eisenhower freshman pitcher Katelynn Fraser releases the ball April 24 against St. Clair High on the road. Fraser and Isabella Thiesen are the two freshmen who were able to crack the Eagles roster this season.

Utica Eisenhower freshman pitcher Katelynn Fraser releases the ball April 24 against St. Clair High on the road. Fraser and Isabella Thiesen are the two freshmen who were able to crack the Eagles roster this season.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Eisenhower softball competing with new coach

By: Jacob Herbert | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 29, 2019

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Cliff Piper taught in Roseville for 27 years. He’s had stints as a basketball coach at Roseville High and currently coaches junior varsity at Utica Eisenhower. He also coached softball at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Now he finds himself taking over for Bob Hall as the skipper of the Eisenhower softball team.

With every new coach, there is a transition period as players and coach take the time to get to know each other. Piper said the transition to his new team was smooth because he elected not to change much from the previous regime.

“A lot of the things we did came from Coach Hall,” said Piper, who kept things like warmup routines and in-game cheers the same. “He was the coach here the last few years. We tried to continue some of the things that he did; he did a great job.”

Piper said part of the smooth transition was due to his senior class consisting of Paige Kolinski, Marlissa Ruggirello, Giuliana Smith and Emily Walsh. The coach said his seniors have helped by talking to him about the little things that go on in practice and what they’ve done in the past. The goal was to keep the day-to-day activities relatively the same.

“He’s super friendly but knows when to be serious,” Kolinski said while describing the new coach’s style. “He’s someone who you can ask a question and he’ll give you the answer.”

Kolinski is the Eagles captain. She was an All-State catcher last year, and earned that honor by recording a .567 batting average with 16 home runs and 59 RBIs. Kolinski will be moving on to play softball at Saginaw Valley State University after high school.

At press time, the Eagles were 4-6 overall and 2-3 in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division.

Piper said he’s been most impressed with the Eagles’ ability to deal with hardships that may occur throughout the course of the season.

The Eagles play in the MAC’s toughest division and therefore play the county’s best. At press time, Red Division leader Romeo High sat at 5-0 in the conference, followed by 4-2 Macomb Dakota and 3-2 Clinton Township Chippewa Valley. New Baltimore Anchor Bay, Utica Ford II and Eisenhower were all tied at 2-3. St. Clair High rounded out the division at 0-5.

One of the Eagles’ division wins so far this season came against Anchor Bay, which served as a confidence builder for Piper and the team.

“I tell them the season is like a rollercoaster,” Piper said. “There’s going to be some good times and bad times. Everyone is happy at the good times; it’s the bad times you’ve got to get through together. They’ve bought into that, and it’s all good.”

The main goal that Piper wants is to finish in the top half of the Red Division. While he is confident that the team can get there, things need to happen in order for that goal to be achieved.

Piper wants to see the team’s consistency improve: consistency in everything from hitting, to pitching, to defense.

When asked about her goals and expectations for the season, Kolinski wants to win a district title. However, as a senior, there’s something she wants to do to not only help the young players improve, but leave the Ike program in good hands for years to come.

“I think as a team, we’re just trying to help players grow in general so that way they can play at a college level if they want to,” Kolinski said. “We’re trying to get people to grow and become better ballplayers.”