FARMINGTON HILLS — Sara McGavin knew heading into the 2014 softball season that it would be a challenge and a blessing.
Her Farmington Hills Mercy softball team did likewise, uniting with their first-year head coach for a 26-win season that finally came to a close last weekend in a Division 1 regional final.
“These girls were a dream to coach,” McGavin said following a 10-1 loss to Canton High in the Novi regional final June 7. Mercy beat Seaholm 11-0 in the regional semifinal earlier in the day. “Whether it was a game or a practice, they brought it every single day. They came early, they stayed late. They did everything a coach, especially one in her first year, could ask for.”
McGavin took over the team prior to this spring, instantly becoming head coach of a group that had reached the regional round last year and won a Catholic League title.
Expectations were to do the same, and more.
And the Marlins did.
“I only have good things to say about these girls,” McGavin stressed.
Mercy finished the season 26-4, won its third straight Catholic League championship and reached the regional final for the second time in the past three years.
In the end, it was a veteran Canton pitcher that stymied the Marlins and ended their season.
“They hit the ball today. They took advantage of some things we gave them,” McGavin said. “I mean, they hit the ball, and their pitching was great. That was the difference.”
Canton, a team that eliminated Mercy 3-2 in last year’s regional semifinal, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first.
But the Marlins responded with a run in the bottom half of the inning when Alex Sobczak scored on an Abby Krzywiecki single.
From there on out, though, Canton pitcher Hannah Warren was dominant.
She allowed two hits in the final six innings and went one stretch where she retired 13 hitters in a row.
Canton added a pair of runs in the third to take a 4-1 lead and then put the game away with six runs in the sixth inning.
“If those first couple innings are different, who knows what happens,” McGavin added. “It’s probably a much different game.”
The Marlins bid farewell to five seniors — Sam Bauer, Emily Gantner, Courtney Avromov, Jordan Ewald and Tasky Marisa — but will also return a majority of the starting lineup, and some key girls in key spots.
“We have some very high hopes,” McGavin said. “We’ll come back, and we’ll build on this year and what this team accomplished. I’m excited about what we have. I’m excited about the future here.”