Kat and Kaitlyn, Mercy’s ‘amazing, magical’ pitcher and catcher combination

Catcher Kat Burras tries to calm down pitcher Kaitlyn Pallozzi during a Hudsonville rally that denied Mercy a state championship. They were one of the top dominant pitcher-catcher combinations in the state. (Wright Wilson | Special to Detroit Catholic)

FARMINGTON HILLS — “She intimidated me.”

Kat Burras remembers the first time she met Kaitlyn Pallozzi at a travel team practice. “She threw the ball so fast.”

Two years ago, they became varsity teammates at Mercy High School. Kat was a sophomore and the starting catcher, Kaitlyn an incoming windmill-hurling freshman.

From her vantage point behind home plate, on the receiving end of Kaitlyn’s artillery, Kat witnessed the trepidation that opposing batters experienced.

Kat and Kaitlyn evolved into one of the top dominant pitcher-catcher combinations in the state.

They wasted little time developing their reputation. On April 5, 2022, in her first high school game, Kaitlyn threw a no-hitter. She struck out 14, walked one batter and hit another.

Three days later, she threw a perfect game — 21 up, 21 down — and all by strikeouts (15 swinging, six called). She became the 12th in state high school history to strike out at least 21 hitters in a seven-inning game and the third to strike out at least 21 consecutive hitters.

With a senior year ahead, Kaitlyn’s stats are eye-boggling: a 57-4 won-lost record, 0.54 ERA, 38 shutouts (including a dozen no-hitters), .072 batting average against, and 899 strikeouts in 372 innings. She is committed to Alabama.

Kat calls her relationship with Kaitlyn “amazing. We hit it off right away. It was more than just on the field. We saw each other in school. I’d help her in school, she’d help me. On the field it was just business.”

Kat employed Kaitlyn’s full arsenal of a fastball (in the low-mid 60 mph, comparable to the mid-upper 80s in baseball), a riser and change up.

“Her best pitch a hundred percent was her rise ball,” Kat said. “It was hard to catch. Her changeup was awesome and her fastball was super dominant. After every inning, I’d ask her what pitches she wanted less to throw or more to throw. We wanted to make sure we were on the right path.”

As catcher, Kat said, “I like being really involved in every single play. I’m kind of running the field from behind the plate. You learn how to work with your teammates a little bit better.”

Corey Burras, Kat’s father who has coached Mercy for four years, said Kat tried infield and outfield positions when she was 9 or 10 years old, but settled on catching after a couple of games. “She’s a good athlete. She knows how to read batters, set up pitches and has a great arm.”

He called the friendship between Kat and Kaitlyn “magical.”

In her four years, Kat played in 127 games, 748 innings, caught nearly 9,000 pitches, committed just one error and allowed 20 passed balls. At bat, she had a .424 batting average, 15 home runs (a team-high 12 in her senior year), 107 RBI, and a combined on-base and slugging percentage of 1.129.

Mercy (38-2) and Hudsonville (42-0) were ranked 1-2 all season long. So, it seemed only appropriate they square off for the Division 1 state championship, something that Mercy last won in 2016, Hudsonville in 2012.

An infield fly that was lost in the sun to open the fifth inning was all it took to break the tension of four innings of no-hit ball by both sides and send Hudsonville on its way to a 10-0 victory.

“We were just waiting for something to happen. Usually, it’s the first person who makes a mistake, and it happened to be us today,” Pallozzi said.

“It was a bad day to have a bad day,” Corey Burras said.

Kat will play in three tournaments in July before reporting Aug. 22 at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.

“I’m looking for any kind of opportunity I can get to play, whether it's infield or outfield,” she said. “I’m blessed to play D1. Wherever the coach puts me, I’m willing to play, even if it’s not catching.”

Kat will major in political science with minors in Spanish and English. “I’ll be on a pre-law track with an opportunity to go to either Seton Hall or Villanova. Right now that’s my plan. Everything could change. I’m keeping an open mind.”

That’s a catcher’s mentality: What are the options?

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].


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