Loaded with youth, talent Mercy softball coach is patient, optimistic

By: Mike Moore | Farmington Press | Published March 30, 2011

 Kayce Nieto finished her sophomore season with a 20-5 record in the circle and will be depended on heavily during the 2011 season, especially early on for Farmington Hills Mercy.

Kayce Nieto finished her sophomore season with a 20-5 record in the circle and will be depended on heavily during the 2011 season, especially early on for Farmington Hills Mercy.

Photo by Andrew Potter

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FARMINGTON HILLS — Fred Marinucci is preaching patience right now, to his team and to himself.

There’s no other remedy for what the early portions of the season are sure to bring about for his Farmington Hills Mercy softball squad — a group loaded with talent, dominated by youth and bubbling with potential.

Now the challenge is putting all that together without much experience to fall back on.

“We’ve got a ton of talent, but now I’m trying to figure out exactly where to put that talent and how to make it work together,” Marinucci said last week. “It’s a good issue to have. I mean, we’re retooling things, but we’ll get it figured out. It’s just going to take a little time.”

And patience.

After going 33-7 a year ago and reaching a regional semifinal, the Marlins only graduated four players, but it was their catcher, first baseman, second baseman and shortstop — their second, third and fourth hitters.

Seven girls are back on the team, but the roster of 13 has no seniors and just three juniors.

“I think the main thing right now is to get as much experience and work in as we can,” junior utility player Olivia Silvestri said during a March 23 practice.

“Right now, it’s like we’re trying to see who fits where,” fellow junior Kayce Nieto added. “We’re seeing how everyone works together.”

If there’s one certainty for the Marlins, it’s Nieto.

The junior pitcher has been lights out since bursting onto the scene as a dominating freshman. She finished her sophomore season with a 20-5 record, a 0.41 ERA, 338 strikeouts, five no-hitters, six one-hitters and an opponent’s batting average of .093.

In the perfect game against Madison Heights Bishop Foley last season, she struck out 20 of 21 batters, and in a 2-1 loss to Allen Park Cabrini in a 21-inning Catholic League final, she recorded 41 strikeouts.

Needless to say, she’ll be leaned on quite a bit.

“We’re going to have to, it’s that simple,” Marinucci said with a laugh. “She has to have that consistency early on that she’s had her whole career so far.”

Nieto shrugged when asked about shouldering the load in the early going.

“Fine by me,” she said. “You have to do what you have to do.”

And the general consensus is that if the Marlins do what they have to do in the early on, the rest will take care of itself.

“We’re going to have to keep working together, find ways to play tough and get some tough wins,” Nieto said.

“If we can keep our head above water until May, we’re going to be just fine,” Marinucci added. “By then, we’ll have figured some things out; the lack of experience won’t be as much of an issue; and that talent can start taking over.”

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