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Liggett baseball could again be among the best teams in the state

By: Mark Vest | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 3, 2018

 Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett’s Billy Kopicki gets in some fielding work at a recent practice. Last season, the Knights made it to a Division 1 state semifinal.

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett’s Billy Kopicki gets in some fielding work at a recent practice. Last season, the Knights made it to a Division 1 state semifinal.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Entering last season, Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett’s baseball program was already a proven winner.

In the six seasons prior, Liggett had won four state championships at the Division 3 and D-4 levels.

But for all of their accomplishments, one thing the Knights hadn’t had the opportunity to do was compete as a D-1 program.

Liggett took advantage of its chance to do so last season, as the Knights made it all the way to a D-1 state semifinal.

As impressive as that accomplishment was, coach Dan Cimini said the team wants to finish what was started last year.

“Last year, these guys believed they would win the state championship in Division 1, and they came mighty close,” Cimini said. “Their goals are the same. They remember that loss, and they’re (going to) use that loss as motivation to try to get back there and win it this year.”

Cimini said most of the players are back from last year, including Noah Miller, Anthony George, Dylan Paulsell, Tyler Daar, Alec Azar, Logan King, Billy Kopicki and Kellen Banaszewski.

Liggett did lose senior Will Morrison for the season due to an injury.

Of the Knights’ returning players, Cimini said eight of them were part of the team’s D-3 state championship in 2016.

Having players with championship experience could be “gigantic” for Liggett.

“We’ve done a good job of believing in ourselves as a team, not thinking about everything else outside of what we have to take care of,” Cimini said. “These guys know that; they’ve been trained to do it. They’re focused; they’re mentally tough. They have one goal in mind, and they know they can get there.”

What Liggett has proven itself to be capable of isn’t exactly a secret to its D-1 competitors.

“It’s a lot tougher,” Cimini said. “People are (going to) be gunning for us. … One thing about our program that I can honestly stand by and say has been the backbone of our program is, we don’t run from anybody, we don’t fear anybody. … We don’t worry about who we’re playing; we worry about ourselves. That’s basically been kind of our motto.”

Before the Knights reach the playoffs, they will have a new challenge this season. After previously competing in the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference, Liggett is now part of the Catholic High School League AA Division.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Cimini said. “It’s a great, great league with outstanding coaches and outstanding players and teams. We’ve played (them) all in the past in the regular season, but now playing in the league is something special.”

Cimini described Liggett’s program as being “steady as a rock.”

“I know we’re preseason ranked No. 3 in the state, which is some respect from the coaches around the state,” he said. “That just shows that we’ve earned where we’re placed, and we’ve earned what we’ve gotten.”