Mercy softball’s season ends one step short of the state championship game

Evelyn Miller, Lauren Miler and Charlie Lambert console each other after Farmington Hills Mercy’s loss in the MHSAA Division 1 softball state semifinals at Michigan State University. (Photos by Wright Wilson | Detroit Catholic)

EAST LANSING – To put it mildly, this was something that the Farmington Hills Mercy softball team wasn’t expecting.

The Marlins – the top-ranked team in Division 1 all year long – saw their state championship aspirations emphatically cut short in the semifinals. Mercy (38-2) fell to undefeated Hudsonville, 10-0, in a six-inning shocker Thursday at Michigan State University’s Secchia Stadium.

The game started out as a pitchers’ duel between Mercy’s Kaitlyn Pallozzi and Hudsonville’s Elly Koopman, as neither team managed to get a hit over the first four innings.

But then the floodgates opened: Hudsonville (41-0) scored seven times on five hits and one Mercy error in the top of the fifth. When the Eagles’ leadoff batter Lauren Luchies lofted an infield pop fly between the Marlins’ shortstop and third baseman which both lost in the sun, that was just the first in a series of unlucky breaks.

Luchies advanced to second on the only wild pitch of the afternoon and scored when the next batter, Lauren Berghorst, laid down a bunt attempt and the throw to first caromed off the fielder’s glove into foul territory. Hudsonville then loaded the bases on two walks, before Tessa Heffelbower cleared them on a triple to left-center, making the score 5-0. Ava Gardner and Luchies had back-to-back doubles to pad the Eagles’ lead.

Catcher Kat Burras tries to calm down pitcher Kaitlyn Pallozzi following a Hudsonville home run in the sixth inning. Mercy allowed seven runs in the fifth inning and three more in the following frame.
Catcher Kat Burras tries to calm down pitcher Kaitlyn Pallozzi following a Hudsonville home run in the sixth inning. Mercy allowed seven runs in the fifth inning and three more in the following frame.

Hudsonville added three more runs in the following inning. Heffelbower had an RBI double before Koopman’s homer to rightfield chased Pallozzi from the mound. Sophia Paluk got the final out by striking out an Eagle batter.

Meanwhile, Koopman nearly twirled a no-hitter. The Marlins didn’t collect their first hit until there were two out in the sixth inning, when Sophia Chaput hit a pop-up which bounced off the shortstop’s glove into the outfield.

“(Koopman) pitched a great game, they’re a great team. Props to them; they beat us. Our hitting did not kick in today, unfortunately,” Mercy coach Corey Burras said. “They’re a strong team, and it just didn’t come together (for us) today. Our team’s been phenomenal all season, and one game does not define us. You can’t base your season on one or two innings.”

Pallozzi, a University of Alabama commit, had only allowed 11 earned runs in the 32 prior games she pitched this season, going 28-1 with a 0.44 earned-run average and struck out 399 batters in 173 innings. While she still struck out 12 Hudsonville batters Thursday, the Eagles tagged her for six earned runs and eight hits.

Farmington Hills Mercy centerfielder Sophia Chaput yells out to the dugout after reaching second base safely in the bottom of the seventh inning. However, that was the only hit Mercy managed against Hudsonville all afternoon.
Farmington Hills Mercy centerfielder Sophia Chaput yells out to the dugout after reaching second base safely in the bottom of the seventh inning. However, that was the only hit Mercy managed against Hudsonville all afternoon.

She admits she was rattled by the series of unlucky breaks that got Hudsonville going.

“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. “We have always been playing for our team and we came out ready to play today, but it didn’t come together for us. They’re a very, very good team and they did a really good job today. We wish them the best.”

Despite the loss, Mercy should be one of the favorites when the 2025 season commences. The four-time reigning Catholic League champions are expected to return mostly their entire roster, as outfielder Sophia Paluk and catcher Kat Burras are the only graduates.

But until then, the Marlins have the off-season to reflect.

Head coach Corey Burras has the unenviable task of delivering the post-game talk to his Farmington Hills Mercy team after the Marlins’ season ended one step short of the state championship game.
Head coach Corey Burras has the unenviable task of delivering the post-game talk to his Farmington Hills Mercy team after the Marlins’ season ended one step short of the state championship game.

Coach Burras said, “If we’re going to base the entire season on just one game, the coaches are out of line. Just keeping things in perspective, one game doesn’t define anything. It can be a good game, a bad game; the progress we make as a team supersedes anything else.”

“I think we just have to get past it at this point,” Pallozzi said. “We were a very close team this year. Coming together and playing together all season long was amazing.”

The last Catholic League team to win a softball championship was Warren Regina, in 2019. The Saddlelites, coached by the now-retired Diane Laffey, beat Howell, 3-2, in an eight-inning extra-inning thriller.



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