No. 2 Allen Park, No. 1 South Lyon highlight softball quarterfinals
In last season's softball playoffs, Allen Park defeated Farmington Hills Mercy, 9-5, in a Division 1 semifinal at Michigan State. The Jaguars then fell to South Lyon in the championship game.
Allen Park and Mercy won’t be playing in the Final Four this time around. Why? The teams will be playing in a state quarterfinal Tuesday at 4:30 at Wayne State for the right to make a return trip to East Lansing this weekend.
Allen Park made its first state semifinal appearance since 1990 last season, then took advantage of the opportunity.
With 11 of 12 players returning, Allen Park earned a No. 20 national ranking in the USA Today poll earlier this season, and it's now ranked No. 2 in the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association ranking, carrying a 35-4-1 record into its quarterfinal matchup against No. 6 Mercy (31-3). Mercy won the Division 1 state championship in 2016.
“We had a good talk on Wednesday, and you could see the energy, positivity and confidence in the kids, so it was good to see,” said Allen Park coach Mike Kish, who noted a month ago he sensed the pressure his players were feeling from the national attention.
“We had a tough game with Garden City (8-6 regional semifinal win) with Barry Patterson finishing his final year as head coach there. He was a co-founder with Finesse, a program I’ve been a part of, so it was bittersweet and hopefully, it was like passing the torch and I can do some of the same special things he did at Garden City.”
Patterson guided Garden City to the Division 1 state championship in 2008, then to state semifinal appearances in 2010, ’12 and ’13, earning more than 800 career wins in a coaching career that started in 1987 at the school.
Allen Park defeated Woodhaven, 12-2, in the regional final game, while Mercy defeated Grosse Pointe North, 4-1, in the semifinal, then St. Clair Shores Lakeview, 10-0, in the title game.
“Mercy had a team with a couple of big-time hitters last season, one (shortstop Grace Nieto) who made the All-Big Ten Freshmen team at Northwestern and another (second baseman) Maggie Murphy who was MAC Freshman of the Year at Miami,” noted Kish. “Now, Mercy doesn’t have that type of a hitting team, but it does have a power pitcher in Kaitlyn Pallozzi. We’ve gone 16-2 against top-10 teams this season, so we’ve faced great pitching and have done well.”
Pallozzi, a 6-foot freshman right-hander, is 12-0 with a 0.57 earned-run average for Mercy, striking out 218 in 86.2 innings while giving up just 16 hits in 16 games.
Allen Park senior shortstop Madi Ramey, who will be playing for Michigan next year, is hitting .490 with six home runs and 39 RBI. She hit a grand slam in a seven-run fourth inning in the state semifinal win over Mercy last year.
Sophomore Avery Garden leads Allen Park in home runs (nine) and RBI (49).
Defending state champion and top-ranked South Lyon will be facing Mattawan in a state quarterfinal at Adrian College Tuesday, following the Division 3 state quarterfinal between Algonac and Grass Lake, which gets underway at 4.
South Lyon sophomore pitcher Ava Bradshaw was recently named Michigan Gatorade Softball Player of the Year. Bradshaw threw a three-hitter in a 5-0 in win over Allen Park in the state final last season.
Algonac won its first regional championship in program history Saturday, getting the job done in dominating style with an 18-0 semifinal win over Canton Prep. That was followed by a 16-0, three-inning title-game win over Grosse Pointe Liggett, as sophomore Kenna Bommarito struck out all nine batters she faced for a perfect game.
All games Tuesday
Mattawan vs. South Lyon, 6 at Adrian College
Allen Park vs. Farmington Hills Mercy, 4:30 at Wayne State
Fenton vs. Hudsonville, 1 at Northwood
Walled Lake Northern vs. Macomb Dakota, 7:30 at Marysville City Park
Detroit Country Day vs. Essexville Garber, 1 at Saginaw Valley State
Trenton vs. Center Line, 4 at Trenton
Escanaba vs. Hudsonville Unity Christian, 4 at Northwood
Stevensville Lakeshore vs. Jackson Northwest, 3 at Kalamazoo College
Richmond vs. Millington, 4 at Saginaw Valley State
Grass Lake vs. Algonac, 4 at Adrian College
Grandville Calvin Christian vs. Parchment, 10:30 a.m. at Cornerstone College
Kalkaska vs. Evart, 1:30 at Cadillac
Onekama vs. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, 5 at Cadillac
Kalamazoo Christian vs. Ottawa Lake Whiteford, 5:30 at Kalamazoo College
Riverview Gabriel Richard vs. Unionville-Sebewaing, 5:30 at Marysville City Park
Pickford vs. Hillman, 5 at Sault Ste. Marie