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Farmington Hills

Published June 2, 2012

Mercy softball team headed back to regional round after convincing district title

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Despite an injury, Kayce Neito was brilliant in the district final, striking out 11 of the 12 batters she faced. Mercy beat Harrison 16-0 in the game.

FARMINGTON HILLS — A year ago, the Farmington Hills Mercy softball team took a lead into the last half of the seventh inning.

Three outs from a district title, it slipped away, and the girls were left wondering what could have been.

There’d be no repeat performance of that this time around.

The Marlins proved to be the best team at the June 2 district at North Farmington, erasing the heartbreak of last year with a 16-0, four-inning win against Farmington Hills Harrison in the final.

“This was huge for us,” senior pitcher Kayce Nieto said. “We all remember what happened last year and how close we came. This is something we’ve been thinking about since that loss.”

After beating North Farmington 10-0 in the semifinal, Mercy wasted little time taking control of the championship game.

The Marlins scored three times in the second inning, eight times in the third and then five more in the fourth.

Nieto, who was questionable to even play thanks to an injury, struck out 11 of the 12 batters she faced.

“She wanted the ball today,” coach Nancy Malinowski said. “She was awesome. She gutted this one out.”

Roughly a week ago, following a 1-0 loss in the Catholic League final, Malinowski said the main focus was on a district title.

“You like to think we’re peaking at the right time,” she said. “I mean, to score 26 runs in two games and hit the ball the way we did, it was a pretty great effort from our girls.”

“That’s just a great team. What can you really say?” Harrison skipper Kristen Zabalavicius said with a smile.

Harrison, which ends the year 21-14, won its first district game since 2006 with a 3-1 victory against Novi High in the semifinals.

“This loss doesn’t take anything away from the year we had,” Zabalavicius added. “This whole season was a great success.”

Alex Sobczak finished the game with three hits for the Marlins, including a home run.

Jordan Ewald also added three hits, while Molly Murphy, Taylor Barrow and Megan Tarrance each had two hits.

Mercy, now 25-8, advances to the Novi High regional June 9.

The Marlins haven’t reached the quarterfinals since 2007.

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