Alicia Seegert, Saline’s longtime softball coach, remembers the first time she met Katie Alexander.
“She was a freshman and I asked her what sports she plays and she said softball,” Seegert recalls. “I thought that was interesting. Then I asked her what position and she said second base. So I asked her if she ever thought about catching and she asked, ‘if I did, could I try out for varsity.’”
Seegert knew right then and there she had her catcher – for the next four years.
“She was tall and I needed someone who could catch the riser,” Seegert said. “But I really liked her demeanor and her attitude. She had a great love for the game and you need someone like that at catcher. It’s a hard position and you need someone who really wants to learn and work hard back there.”
And that is the definition of Katie Alexander. It’s how she earned a starting spot as a freshman at Saline and how she earned a starting spot as a junior on the University of Michigan’s softball team – which brings us back to another question Seegert asked Alexander during that initial meeting.
“She asked me where I wanted to go to college,” Alexander recalls. “I said Michigan without hesitation. I knew when I was a young kid that I wanted to go to Michigan.”
Alexander not only wanted to attend Michigan, but also play softball for the Wolverines. Well, Miss. Alexander you’ve come to the right place. Turns out Seegert was an expert on both subjects.
Seegert was a catcher for the Wolverines from 1984-87 and All Big Ten three times and All-American as a senior. She played at Michigan for both Bob DeCarolis and current head coach Carol Hutchins, who is now in her 34th season running the program and the winningest coach in NCAA softball history.
“She taught me how to be a catcher,” Alexander says of Seegert. “I never played catcher until my freshman year at Saline. I’ve learned a lot at Michigan that has helped make me the player I am today but Alicia really helped me with the fundamentals and the mental side of catching. She also taught me how to have fun with it.”
Alexander is having a lot of fun with it this year as a member of the 17th ranked Wolverines. Michigan is 35-7 overall and an impressive 10-1 in the Big Ten. Alexander is the starting catcher and hitting .340 with 16 RBI, six doubles and four home runs.
“We didn’t win the Big Ten last year and that’s always our goal here at Michigan so that’s what we are focused on right now,” said Alexander, who played her travel ball with the Ann Arbor Gold Fastpitch. “We are doing pretty well this season and we’re doing well in the Big Ten. But we can always do better and that’s what is pushing us. Softball is a game of ups and downs and we have to keep our focus on one game at a time. You can have a great game on one day and then go 0-3 the next so it’s important to play every game like it’s a Big Ten championship game.”
Alexander had to pay her dues and earn her way onto the field, something she was told about from someone who knew.
“One thing I told her was you can set your goal high but you have to follow their plan,” Seegert said. “But when you get the opportunity, and you will, that’s when you show them what you can do. And that’s what she did. When she got the opportunity she showed them that she can play.”
As a freshman, Alexander appeared in 13 games as a pinch hitter and catcher, starting the Big Ten Tournament championship game behind the plate. She had a pinch-hit grand slam at Penn State and did well when given the opportunity.
She took the next step the following year, one that landed her in the starting lineup.
As a sophomore, Alexander appeared in 45 games, starting 43 behind the plate and was Academic All-Big Ten. She had hits in her first six starts, hit two home runs with five RBI against Rutgers, had a double and a triple at Wisconsin and caught three no-hitters during the season.
“I just want to get better and better each year,” says Katie, the daughter of David and Sara Alexander of Saline. “My drive to be a starter is really what got me on the field. I got the starting job because that was my goal and I’m a really hard worker.”
She believes in hard work – and why not, it’s served her well.
“I’m not surprised with good outcomes because they are a product of hard work and I put in a lot of hard work to get me to where I am,” she says. “I still think I can be better than what I am today so I continue to work at it.”
Seegert saw that work ethic for four years at Saline.
“Katie wants to learn and she will out work anybody,” Seegert said. “She’s pretty good right now but she’s not satisfied. It’s kind of scary how good she can be. The hard work is paying off.”
From 2006 to 2015, Alexander played travel ball with the Ann Arbor Gold Fastpitch. It was time she remembers with a smile.
“It wasn’t one of those teams where you travel all over the country,” she said. “We would play in Michigan and Ohio and Indiana. We only went to Florida one time. But I grew up playing with the same girls. And it was so fun. We had tournaments every weekend and the parents would have picnics for us on the road. I’m so appreciative that I was able to play on a smaller team where I made some great relationships with people and special memories. That’s what means the most in the end.”
Alexander had a fantastic career at Saline. The Hornet was twice named All-State and was a four-time All-Region, All-District and All-SEC selection. She batted .637 with a 1.306 slugging percentage as a junior and hit .602 as a senior. She also hit 39 career home runs, tying the state single-season record with 18 as a junior.
And that brings us back to Seegert, who is obviously proud of her former player, former student and forever friend.
“I read where Hutch said Katie is one of the better catchers she’s ever had at Michigan,” Seegert said, apparently present company included. “And that was a great compliment because Michigan has had some really great catchers over the years. I think it’s great that she is playing for the same coach I played for. I’m just so proud of her.”