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SOFTBALL: Canton routs Mercy, picks up second straight regional title behind stellar pitching from Warren

   | Jeff Dullack

State Champs! Sports Network

NOVI – A season ago, Hannah Warren was tasked with the job of slowing down a dangerous Farmington Hills Mercy team in the regional semifinals, and was able to do just that, leading Canton to a narrow 3-2 win and eventually a regional championship.

Fast forward one season and Warren and the Chiefs found themselves in a similar position, this time looking to hold down the Marlins in the regional championship game.

Behind another dazzling effort from their senior ace, the Chiefs once again topped Mercy, only this time with more run support to pick up a convincing 10-1 win to advance to the quarterfinals for a second straight year.

In the quarterfinals, back at Novi high school on Tuesday, the Chiefs will face Romeo, which topped Lake Orion 5-1 to win its regional title.

Canton (32-7) head coach Al White said that the big six-run sixth inning for the Chiefs was big for his team to give themselves some breathing room and allowing Canton to coast to a second straight regional championship.

“That just takes so much pressure off of everybody when we went over that hump,” he said. “They just don’t quit, they’re a great bunch of girls that I enjoy to coach. We know where we want to go, everyone knows where we want to go. We have a big one on Tuesday, no matter who we play.”

After the Chiefs already scored a pair of runs, including one on an RBI single from Elizabeth Yager, to make it 6-1, Canton put the game out of reach when Kendyl Richter and Paige Aresco each tallied a two-run double to push the lead to 10-1.

That proved to be more than enough run support for Warren, who allowed just four hits and one run on the day, retired 13 straight batters at one point to silence the Marlins for much of the final six innings

Warren said that after allowing the only Mercy run in the first inning, she was sure to focus on hitting her spots and not making mistakes to the loaded Marlin’s lineup.

“It’s just about hitting my spots,” said Warren, who finished with eight strikeouts on the day. “Mercy is a very, very good power hitting team and there’s a lot of girls coming in with really bright futures with their bats at D-1 colleges. I knew I had to hit my spots after the first rough inning, and I was able to settle down.”

Warren, who didn’t pitch in the first game, where Mackenna Payne pitched five innings for a shutout victory, because White wanted to save his senior ace for the regional title game as she’s working her way back from an injury that sidelined her for the better part of a month.

“She’s not 100 percent yet,” White said. “She’s getting close, but she missed about four weeks of work there with that ankle. She came back and tried to pitch a couple of times, and she got us through the games that she threw, but it was hurting her.”

Canton jumped out to a 2-0 lead early on, when Richter and Aresco each tallied an RBI, but Mercy managed to cut the lead in half in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI single from Abby Krzyiecki.

The Chiefs later pushed their lead to 4-1 in the third inning when Warren helped her own cause with a two-RBI double.