Liggett baseball enters season as defending state champions

By: Mark Vest | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 1, 2015


GROSSE POINTE WOODS — After going to a state title game for the last four seasons, three of which resulted in a championship, the baseball team from Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett is preparing to embark upon another season.

Last season, Liggett won a state title after moving from Division 4 to Division 3.

Aside from the state titles, head coach Dan Cimini said Liggett has also won 10 district titles in 11 years and won five regional championships. Cimini also said “we’re the only team in the history of Michigan baseball to go to four straight state championship games. We’re also the first team in history to win back-to-back state championships while moving up a division.”

Given the success that the Knights have had in recent seasons, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that Cimini cited a lofty goal for Liggett.

“We expect to be back in the final four,” he said. “That’s our expectations. We’re in a tough district this year. We’re playing in Madison Heights Bishop Foley’s district. The last four state champions in Division 3 are in the same district this year, so someone’s going home. We’re hosting a regional. Our goal is to get to that regional, win our district, and hopefully get back and challenge for a state championship again.”

As for this season, Cimini cited pitching and defense as the team’s strengths. He also said the Knights’ bats are probably “better than they’ve ever been.”

“I like our team,” Cimini said. “We lost five seniors last year, but we have five freshmen, good group of sophomores and juniors that have really stepped up. We look really good — really solid. Good depth and talented baseball players, which is a beautiful thing to see.”

Going to four consecutive state title games means Cimini doesn’t have to worry about explaining Liggett’s tradition to newcomers.

“We’re defending state champions, again,” he said. “They know the standards are super high. If a freshman makes the team, they’re making the team because they’re good baseball kids. You don’t really need to teach that. Our motto here is, ‘Everything counts.’ How they walk, how they talk, how they conduct themselves in and out of the classroom, on the field, at home. All that stuff counts in our program. The wins and losses take care of themselves.”

The expectations that Cimini has set for the program could be a large part of the reason why Liggett has had so much success.

“Our expectations are to compete in every game, get better as the season goes along, and be playing our best baseball at the end of the year,” he said. “We’ve been successful doing that. In the last four years, we’re 31-1 in the playoffs. Something’s working.”

Liggett junior Matthew Gushee also discussed his expectations for the team.

“We look really good out here,” he said. “I know we’re young, but I would say my expectations are a good run this year. We look good on the field, strong at hitting, crisp at fielding.”

“I expect big things from our team,” said sophomore Connor McCarron. “I think we should make another run at it, and try to beat the best teams.”

Cimini said Liggett is scheduled to play all the best teams in the state, including the defending Division 1, Division 2 and Division 4 state champions.

Liggett is scheduled to play a doubleheader April 4 at home against Bay City Western. The first game is scheduled for 11 a.m., and second is at 1 p.m.