Mercy softball team has figured things out as regular season winds down

By: Mike Moore | Farmington Press | Published May 24, 2011


FARMINGTON HILLS — For Jack Falvo, it wasn’t a matter of if, but more so a matter of when.

Maybe it would take a few weeks. Possibly, a month or more.

Either way, the Farmington Hills Mercy softball coach knew there’d be a point when his squad figured things out, when the overall youth of the roster mattered little compared to the extreme talent it possessed.

“I figured it’d take about seven or eight games,” Falvo said last week with a smile. “I guess I was pretty close. … It was about that seventh game where we really noticed something different. You could see they were figuring things out. They really started to turn that corner.”

The Marlins started the season a very modest 3-3.

Then came the seventh game.

Then came the difference.

“It took some time, but I think we grew up a lot,” sophomore Jacquelyn Murphy said during a May 19 practice. “Things started clicking.”

Since that 3-3 start, Mercy has gone 10-2.

The youth has blossomed. The talent has arrived.

“Depending on the lineup, we can start as many as four freshman and three sophomores,” Falvo said. “Needless to say, we don’t have a senior starting. … We knew this would be a young team from the start, but we knew we had talent that just needed time to develop. The girls have hit their stride. They understand what to do. They understand their roles.”

Falvo laughed when asked if he had to shift is lineup at all. The laughter was followed by a diagram of girls starting at one position, shifting to another only to find their permanent footing in a third or fourth spot.

For example, freshman Jordan Ewald started at catcher and then switched to second base before landing at shortstop. Falvo said he’s had center fielders take over at second base, shortstops move to third, and so on.

“The only guarantee we had had was Kayce,” Falvo said of junior pitcher Kayce Nieto, the team’s No. 1 starter for each of the past three seasons who was 11-3 at press time.

“Other than that, we had no clue,” he added. “We knew there was plenty of talent. We just didn’t know where it fit.”

The one thing that never suffered, though, according to Nieto, was the team’s attitude.

“We always knew we were talented,” she said. “So we’ve gone out every day just looking to get better.

Is it good enough? Only time will tell.

The Marlins, who were district champs in 2010, find themselves in a 2011 district draw with Farmington High, Farmington Hill Harrison, Northville High, Novi High and North Farmington.

“North Farmington is the favorite, the best team out there, and we know that,” Falvo admitted. “We’re going to go in and try to stir things up. Nobody’s going to expect much from us.”

“We’ve been proving people wrong most of the season,” Murphy said with a smile. “We’ll lean on Kayce a lot and see what happens. What else can we do?”