Farmington Hills — Andrea Elmore picked the perfect time to hit her first career home run, leading Farmington Hills Mercy to a 6-2 win Thursday afternoon over Allen Park Cabrini in a Catholic League softball semifinal.
Elmore, a senior pitcher, helped herself by slugging a three-run homer during a five-run third inning that wiped out a 2-0 deficit.
“It was an inside rise and really I was just thinking about hitting the ball,” she said. “It was like I’ve got to do something and I really didn’t think it was going out so I was really happy when I saw it go and hit the net.
Elmore, who will pitch next year at Mississippi Valley State, struggled early on the mound, giving up a two-run single to Cabrini pitcher Nadia Hazimeh in the opening inning. She gave up two walks in the opening inning, then two more in the second when she had to work her way out of a bases-loaded jam by getting the No. 4 hitter to ground out to second baseman Nicole Belans.
“When it’s bases loaded, it’s just really hard and more than anything you have to have faith in your team. You can’t focus on yourself and getting a strikeout, you just have to have your teammates have your back and they do,” Elmore said. of getting out of the jam in the second to keep Mercy (23-1) close.
She also stranded runners in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings, retiring batters on ground-outs to shortstop Shannon Gibbons in the fourth and fifth.
Senior Abby Krzywiecki, who entered the game with a school-record 41 career homers, was a rare 0-for-3, failing to get the ball out of the infield for Mercy (23-1). She struck out with runners on first and second in the third, but Cari Padula and Belans followed with RBI singles before Elmore’s homer.
“Abby’s a great hitter and she does a lot for this team and not every game is going to be perfect for her ... it’s our job to pick her up,” Elmore said. “She’s still a great hitter and I’m sure she’ll do well in the next game.”
Mercy’s next game the Catholic League championship game at 5 p.m. Monday at the University of Detroit against Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (22-4), a 5-4 winner Wednesday over defending champion Warren Regina.
Mercy coach Alec Lesko was thrilled for Elmore and her teammates, after they lost in a semifinal last year to Regina.
“Andrea hasn’t batted for us as a varsity player very often,” he said. “We put in some extra time and about four or five games in I decided to let her swing for herself and see what happens.
“She’s hit balls hard all year and it’s the first one she got elevated and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
And, of Elmore’s ability to get out of jams, Lesko replied: “She has the ability to raise herself in those tight situations and bear down to get the big outs. When she’s on, she’s tough to hit. We work hard on defense and we put an expectation out there — if you have that combination of good pitching, good defense and some timely hitting, that’s a resume for success.”
Belans, Anna Dixon and Sophia VanAcker each had two singles to lead Mercy’s 10-hit attack.
Birmingham Groves 9, Detroit Renaissance 2: Joe Roberts hit a solo home run, had four RBI and scored two runs, and Max Whalen got the win, striking out six over four innings and giving up three hits for Groves (24-7). Jordan Christian doubled for Renaissance.
Farmington 9, Farmington Hills Harrison 1: In clinching the OAA White championship, Dan Carty threw a complete game, striking out seven and giving up three hits, Alex Manasa went 2-for-3 with a home run and Devin Mahanti had an RBI for Farmington (24-7, 13-2). Jared Char went 1-for-3 with a double and run scored for Harrison.
Grosse Pointe North 8, Utica Ford 1: In clinching the MAC White championship, Alex VanDoorne went 2-for-3 with four RBIs, Sam Cross had a double and two RBIs and Ryan Mazzola was the winning pitcher with six strikeouts for North (20-7, 12-3). Connor Larson had a double and an RBI for Ford (9-20, 2-13).
Detroit News staff contributed.