Dominant effort from ‘superstar’ Kaitlyn Pallozzi leads top-seeded Mercy past No. 7 Allen Park into the D1 state semifinals – The News Herald

Mercy’s Kaitlyn Pallozzi, left, goes to hug teammate and catcher Kat Burras after the top-ranked Marlins earned a 3-0 victory over No. 7 Allen Park in a D1 state quarterfinal played at Wayne State University on June 11, 2024. (MADISON HOOL – for MediaNews group)

DETROIT – You’d be hard-pressed to find two teams that have been more tested over the course of this season than Farmington Hills Mercy and Allen Park. So it seemed fitting that the two top-10 teams collided Tuesday for the third time this season in a Division 1 softball state quarterfinal at Wayne State University.

Improving the schedule and quality of competition has been a collective effort, especially on the Mercy side.

“From (my) freshman to sophomore year, we didn’t play that tough of a schedule,” junior Kaitlyn Pallozzi said. “Going into this year, we knew we would be competing against the best in the state. So going into this game, we knew we had to compete and do what we could to win.”

Pallozzi and Mercy once again found themselves locked in a low-scoring pitchers’ duel. And because there was no room for mistakes and no future was guaranteed, the junior star took matters into his own hands on Tuesday.

Behind a dominant pitching effort on the mound, coupled with some late-game heroics at the dish, Pallozzi led Mercy to a 3-0 win over the No. 7 ranked Jags, advancing the top-ranked Marlins to the semifinals from the state were sent for the eighth time in program history and the first since 2021.

PHOTO GALLERY: Softball State Quarterfinals – Farmington Hills Mercy vs. Allen Park

Tuesday marked the third time in four years that Allen Park and Mercy met in the postseason. The former won each of its two previous matches, including an 11-3 win in this round of the 2022 playoffs en route to their first-ever state championship.

Albeit two years later, Mercy finally takes revenge on the Jags.

“It was awesome to watch,” Mercy head coach Corey Burras said after the win. “Allen Park is such a well-coached team with great talent. They’ve been there before and won everything, so it was a huge step up for us.

“(Allen Park pitcher Melody Filipiak) is outstanding for them,” Burras added. “It was a great pitching duel.”

To say the game’s two pitchers – Pallozzi for Mercy and Filipiak for Allen Park – stole the show would be an understatement. In fact, it was a scoreless game for six innings, with only three hits and a total of six baserunners between the two teams.

“I’m just so proud,” said Allen Park head coach Michael Kish. “These girls try their hardest and work so hard and make big plays everywhere. You have to give Pallozzi credit, she’s all they talk about. And she beat us, that’s all.”

The first real bit of potential scoring threat in the game came in the top of the fourth inning when Mercy had runners on the corners with one out. But all three outs in that inning came on balls fired into the air, one of which came off Pallozzi’s bat to deep center.

Pallozzi, meanwhile, did her work in the circle, putting zeros on the board. Not only did the University of Alabama commit allow just three hits all evening, all but two of the outs she recorded in her entire game came via the strikeout.

“She showed a lot of intensity,” Burras said. “And she’s still smiling in the seventh inning. Her mentality is great and she’s ready to take that next step and become a superstar.”

Junior and University of Alabama commit Kaitlyn Pallozzi accounted for 19 of the 21 putouts she recorded, while also hitting a two-run home run in the Marlins’ 3-0 win against Allen Park on June 11, 2024. (MADISON HOOL – For MediaNews Group)

The junior was candid in her thoughts on a match unfolding as it did on Tuesday.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s really stressful,” Pallozzi said. “The pressure can be a lot. But you just have to know that you’re playing for the seniors and you’re playing for the team and that’s what can get you through.”

The only time consecutive baserunners reached base safely in Tuesday’s game was in the seventh inning when Mercy finally broke the scoring seal. And perhaps fittingly, the big blow came via a two-run home run to right-center off the bat of Pallozzi. The blast landed on Evelyn Miller, who led off the inning with a single to center.

The Fish scored another insurance run in the form of a one-out RBI knock by Carmella Crane. While it didn’t amount to more offense, Burras was encouraged by his team’s dedication to their hitting approach against Filipiak.