A USA-365 special report by Mark Smith
|First baseman Grace Frazier hustles to the bag to beat Avon leadoff hitter Tiara Edwards in the first inning of the championship game. (All photos by Mark Smith)|
|Third base coach Pete Iussig watches MacKenzie Dunlap come in to score with Grace Frazier is right behind her on Mallory McMahon's two run single in the first inning.|
|Mallory McMahon stands in the center field sun after her two-run hit gave Crown Point an early lead.|
|Avon pitcher Haylie Foster watches her sister shortstop Kamrie Foster grab a third inning pop up.|
|CP seniors Natalie Klingberg and MacKenzie Dunlap guard the left side of the infield in the sunset at Ben Davis high school.|
|CP pitcher Alexis Holloway and shortstop MacKenzie Dunlap celebrate the end of the fourth inning in the championship game against Avon.|
|CP pitcher Alexis Holloway grabs a popup to end the sixth inning. Holloway retired the final 11 Avon batters.|
|The girls were ready to play before television was. An IHSAA Network producer held up his hand to hold up play until the commercials ended between innings.|
|CP sophomore Mallory McMahon stands on second base after her hit put Crown Point ahead in the first inning.|
|CP pitcher Alexis Holloway grabs this pop bunt before it hits the ground in the third inning. Six Avon outs were ground balls, line drive or pop ups to Holloway.|
|CP shortstop MacKenzie Dunlap scoops this short hop ground ball to start the seventh inning. CP made no errors in the championship game.|
|Avon, which is 15 minutes from Ben Davis, had more fans than CP did at the final game, but the Bulldogs did match the Orioles' enthusiasm.|
|CP freshmen Zoie Rettig and Avert Skura lead cheers between inning of the state title game at Ben Davis.|
|CP's MacKenzie Dunlap throws a runner out from deep short. The championship game was scoreless after the first inning.|
|CP's Caitlyn Phillips seems happy to be here batting in the fifth inning.|
|CP s MacKenzie Dunlap knows the end is near as the title game moves into the 6th inning.|
|CP coach Pete Iussig advises MacKenzie Dunlap during the battle with Avon. This was the first state title game a a coach for Pete Iussig, who has been a head coach for 26 seasons.|
|CP pitcher Alexis Holloway and Lexi Madrigal begin the celebration after Holloway struck out Avon's Amy Miller to end the Class 4A state championship game.|
|CP's Mallory McMahon gets her state championship medal from Lowell athletic director and IHSAA executive board president Patti McCormack.|
|CP's Alexis Holloway talks to the IHSAA network after the state championship game where she allowed just three hits to pick up her 22nd victory of the season.|
|Alexis Holloway and her parents pose with the 'big check' the $1,000 scholarship grant awarded to Crown Point high school in honor of Alexis after she was named the state tournament's Mental Attitude Award winner.|
|Avon's Foster sisters Kamrie (12), Sydnie (13) and Haylie Foster (14) pose for the camera after the 2-1 loss to Crown Point. The three seniors started on last year's state title team and this year's runner up.|
|Coach Pete Iussig (center), Jim Chancellor (left) and Gabrielle (Gabby) Raspopovich smile after CP caps a 30-2 season with a 2-1 win over Avon.|
CP catcher Lexi Madrigal holds the
big trophy after her the school's first girls team sports state
title in 32 years, the 2017 state Class 4A softball championship.
(All photos by Mark Smith)
2017 USA-365.com and Meyer
Multimedia Services, a division of Meyer Broadcasting Corp. All rights
State Softball Tournament
Crown Point (30-2), Coached by Pete Iussig
May 25 (W) 5-0 Munster (20-7)
May 27 (W) 3-1 Lake Central (23-8)
Chesterton (4A) Regional
May 30 (W) 5-0 Chesterton (25-7)
Harrison (4A) Semistate
June 3 (W) 2-1 (13 innings) Penn (29-2)
June 3 (W) 3-0 Hamilton Southeastern (19-10)
Class 4A State Championship game
June 10 (W) 2-1 Avon (23-9)
|Team (Record) / Inning||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|CROWN POINT (30-2)||2||0||0||0||0||0||-||2||3||0|
Saturday, June 10, 2017 -
87-degrees, windy, 4A State Championship game at Ben Davis high in
WP: Alexis Holloway (22-1) CG, 6 strikeouts, 1 walk
LP: Haylie Foster (12-3) CG, 4K 0 walks
Tiara Edwards (CF) 1-for-3
Kamrie Foster (SS) 0-for-3
Haylie Foster (P) 1-for-2, double, walk
Paige Eichelberger (1B) 1-for-3
Amy Miller (DP) 1-for-1
Grace Woodyard (RF) 0-for-1 sac bunt
Sidney Jones (3B) 0-for-2
Halle Morgan (C) 0-for-2
Sydnee Foster (LF) 0-for-2
CROWN POINT (30-2)
MacKenzie Dunlap (SS) 1-for-3, run scored
Grace Frazier (1B) 1-for-3, run scored
Alexis Holloway (P) 0-for-2
Mallory McMahon (CF) 1-for-2, RBI
Maggie Ballentine (CF) 0-for-2
Zoie Rettig (DH) 0-for-1
Caitlyn Phillips (LF) 0-for-2
Lydia Byrd (RF) 0-for-2
Lexi Madrigal (C) 0 for 2
Click Here for free MP3 Podcast.
INDIANAPOLIS (6-10-2017) When you are from Lake County, the mixed blessing of attending the state finals is the 2-1/2 hour drive home, often in the dark and most times, by yourself. You drive faster than you should, flying through the night on I-65. Kinda like Nascar, only with orange construction cones.
I always stop in a gas station in Lebanon or Lafayette or Rensselaer, most times still still wearing the identification badge that the IHSAA gives you when you attend the finals. High school sports are a universal language. I almost always get the same questions from the late night lady behind the counter.
"Do you have kids who play?" she might say.
"No, I don't have any children. Just following the team.'"
"Did your school win?" she'd say, surely just trying to be polite.
Last Saturday night, I smiled and nodded my head, "Yeah," I said quietly. "My school won."
When people in Crown Point heard that the girls softball team won the state championship with a 2-1 late Saturday victory over defending champion Avon, whether they followed girls softball or not, they probably smiled and said the same thing. It's been a long time.
It's been 32 years since a girls sports team from Crown Point had won a state championship. No CP spring sports team had ever won any state championship. Winning pitcher Alexis Holloway was named the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) mental attitude award winner, the ultimate good citizen, student athlete honor.
For one day, and the long drive home, Crown Point's girls were the kings of the softball world.
This one-run game, played in mid-80s, mid-summer heat at Ben Davis high school, was more anticipation than action.
Avon (23-9) scored with two out in the first inning when the Orioles pitcher and No. 3 hitter lined a 1-2 pitch off the left field fence for a double. The Orioles' clean-up hitter, Paige Eichelberger, then hit the first pitch into left field for a single. The throw from CP left fielder Caitlin Phillips held the runner Foster at third base, but Eichelberger rounded first base to get caught up in a rundown and draw a throw.
While Eichelberger was being tagged, Foster broke for the plate and beat the throw to give Avon a 1-0 lead.
"We blew the first play. That run never should have scored," said CP coach Pete Iussig. "We had a play for that and one of the girls is supposed to yell 'now' at (MacKenzie) Dunlap to tell her the runner at third was breaking for home. But with the crowd noise, she didn't hear them."
Trailing for the first time in the state tournament, CP (30-2) came back quickly. Dunlap, a .425 hitter with 18 extra base hits, bunted for a single to lead off. Second place hitter Grace Frazier, a left-handed slap hitter in most at bats, sliced a single to left to put runners at first and second.
Holloway and Frazier stole second and third on the 1-1 pitch to Holloway, who then grounded out. Sophomore Mallory McMahon then lined a base hit to left. Avon's Sydnee Foster charged the ball with the thought of throwing out Frazier at home, but the ball got past the Avon left fielder. McMahon ended up at second base with two RBIs.
I'm sure there is a reason that McMahon was batting in the fourth spot after hitting fifth in every other post-season game. But Iussig, a 25-year head coaching veteran (at Lowell), insisted there was not.
"I told her it was going to be her day," said Iussig. "I called it. It was just a hunch."
The key to this game after the first inning was CP's defense. Avon girls seemed to cut down on their swings to just make contact against Holloway, who averages 10 strikeouts a game. CP made all the plays, including two big ones in the second and fourth innings.
In the second inning, Avon's Amy Miller slapped a soft single to left field. Grace Woodyard then bunted to Holloway who threw her out at first. CP first baseman Grace Frazier then threw behind the runner Miller, who rounded second base aggressively. The quick throw saw pinch runner Logan Shake tagged out to end that threat.
In the fourth inning, Haylie Foster walked. On a ground ball to shortstop MacKenzie Dunlap, Foster again rounded second as the throw went to first. Frazier again threw behind the runner and caught her off base. That was Avon's last baserunner of the season. Holloway retired the final 10 hitters in a row.
"He (coach Pete Iussig) told us from the beginning that that's how they (Avon) score their runs," said Dunlap. "Stealing bases and getting around the bases. I saw her out of the corner of my eye so I just knew it and threw it."
"We don't win this game without our defense," said Holloway. "We worked on our defense all year and to see it pay off here was awesome."
Mallory McMahon drove in both runs in her first game as Crown Point's clean-up batter.
"I usually bat fifth," Mallory said after the game," but on the bus he said 'I made a little tweak and you're going to bat fourth.' It's odd. The whole time I thought she was going to come down and in. But it was over the middle and I got a good swing at it."
"It felt really good to be able to make a difference."
After that, it was Holloway and the defense holding things down.
"I wasn't nervous," Alexis said about the first inning. Anxious would be a better way of putting it. We waited a long time for the 3A game to end. I would say anxious. But she (Foster) hit a good pitch. It could have been a little higher but I'm picky about things like that. They've got a great lineup."
Holloway always seems very confident. When Amy Miller singled to start the second inning, that was three consecutive hits off a pitcher who had allowed 60 hits in 158 innings all season. She was not shaken by the hits.
"I just kept throwing my pitches where we wanted them. Just kept working on the hitter and we went from there. They have a good batting order. They're in the state championship game for two years in a row for a reason."
Avon fans, dressed in black and gold, out numbered the red-shirted CP fans, but Holloway (22-1) finished strong against a team determined to put the ball in play. Six Avon outs were pop ups, soft line drives or ground balls back to the pitcher.
"Its crazy," said Frazier. It's crazy to think this is the first time this has ever happened at Crown Point. It's great."
When Holloway struck out Amy Miller to end the game, the CP girls rushed the field to celebrate the first state title by a CP girls team since Tom May's Lady Bulldog basketball team won back-to-back titles in 1984 and 1985.
I hope Lowell folks take as much pride in this state title as CP people can.
Crown Point's last two softball coaches (former coach Ginger Keithley got a medal after the win Saturday) have been from Lowell. Iussig is a Hall-of-Famer who was surrounded by long time friends from the south end of the county on the field after the win. When The Bulldogs and Devils open the football season in August, the softball team will certainly be honored and sincere cheers will come from both sides of the field.
Crown Point and Lowell have always been more friends than high school rivals, for a lot of reasons, including intermingling of personnel. But CP's win was unlike anything I had ever seen or heard of at a state championship.
The lady who handed the state finals trophy to Iussig: Patti McCormack, Athletic director at Lowell. Been there more than 25 years.
For decades, Pete Iussig has always been a Lowell guy. Neither school had ever won the state championship in the 33 years of the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) state softball playoffs.
"I'm a Bulldog now," he said in the artificial light at Ben Davis high school. "There's only two guys in Lowell who have lifetime passes for life. Me and Don Bales. So, I'll always be a Red Devil."
"But I'm at Crown Point now. I'm a Red Devil Bulldog."
"You know that means a lot to be state champion. But all my buddies are here. My college buddies. My high school biddies. They're here. Me and Jim Chancellor. We've been together a long time. Gabby (assistant coach and CP grad Gabrielle Raspopovich) is our other assistant. It's like we've been together for years. And the girls all came together. It was perfect."
It was for me. I didn't have to feel bad for Avon, because they'd won the year before. And after years of following the two oldest South Lake County schools, Crown Point's greatest softball moment had a decidedly Lowell flavor. And I made a mistake talking to the lady in the gas station on I-65.
When she asked if 'my school' won I should have said, "Yeah. My schools won."
BULLDOG NOTES: Along with the state title, this is Crown Point's first 30-win season. CP was 29-1 in 2014 and 29-3 in 2015. Crown Point's last eight varsity softball seasons have ended with records of 27-2 (2010), 19-8 (2011), 25-8 (2012), 25-5 (2013), 29-1 (2014), 29-3 (2015), 28-2 (2016) and now 30-2. That's 212 wins and 31 losses.
The overpowering heat that was expected for the 4A title game did not materialize. Temperatures dropped into a pleasant low 80s for most of the game with the help from a 15-20 mph wind.
Long time media director Jason Wille is the uncle of CP junior Lydia Byrd.
Avon (23-9) faced 16 ranked teams in the Orioles' 32-game season. Avon also finished second in Class 4A in 2011.
Avon pitcher Haylie Foster admitted the situation shook her early in the championship game.
"I had the first inning jitters, to be honest," she said after the game. "I was really nervous. It's state. A lot of pressure obviously. Big crowd. Fans everywhere. After the first inning I went to the bullpen and worked on my spins to make sure I hit my spots. I just said 'Whatever happens Happens.' I'm not going to over-think and over-pitch. They always have to remind me to relax."
The Foster sisters played their final game, the ending of their family's run of three state title games in seven years.
"All Fosters have to experience the state finals," she joked. "It's rare and it's cool. They went to state in 2011 and my oldest sister played shortstop. Last year, Kamrie, who was the shortstop tonight, was in left field. And Sydnee, who was in center field tonight, was in left field."
"I'm glad I got to experience all this with them. Without them, I don't think we'd have been here."
Lowell athletic director Patti McCormack, a long time member of the IHSAA board and the new head of the board of directors for next year, didn't really try to be impartial as she gave Iussig his state championship medal. They've known each other over 30 years.
"I told him he should take the job," McCormack said of last year when Iussig was considering replacing one of his former players, former CPHS head coach Ginger Britton (who was at the game Saturday). "I told him I'd be handing him the trophy."
CP may someday again win another state softball title, but it almost certainly won't be like this. In six playoff games, the Lady Bulldogs defeated teams ranked eighth (LC), ninth (Chesterton), and first (Penn) and they then defeated the defending state champion Avon, which was rated 12th. They rode the hard road.
The girl in the Kankakee Valley softball uniform sitting by the fence cheering for Crown Point in the 4A championship game was KV senior MacKenzie Adams, a four year starter for the Kougars, who lost 13-6 to New Palestine in the 3A championship game.
Adams and CP's MacKenzie Dunlap were teammates at KV in 2014 and friends before that. Dunlap's family moved to Crown Point in the summer of 2014.
USA-365.com Broadcast Note: Internet radio USA-365.com wishes to thank all the sponsors who made our live coverage of the "home team call" of the play-by-play of the Crown Point Bulldogs Softball team (30-2) in their 4A state championship game with the Avon Orioles (23-9) on Saturday, June 10. Frank Sprankle called the play-by-play of the Lady Bulldogs throughout their state championship playoff run.
We have posted MP3 audio archives from all our 2017 baseball and softball games broadcast on USA-365.com and Indiana-Sports.com on our website.
Congratulations to the Crown Point Bulldogs Girls Softball team on their first appearance and first ever championship in the IHSAA Class 4A tournament last weekend at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis!
Be sure to check the USA-365.com website schedule for a season summary of scores and links to all our spring games covered this past season on USA-365.com.
IHSAA State Finals:
Class A State Championship
Final | Tecumseh 3, Tri 0
Box Score | Recap
■ Final Records: Tecumseh (23-9), Tri (25-4)
■ Tecumseh wins 3rd State Softball Title (2009, 2011, 2017)
■ Braves' Kaitlyn Flowers named Mental Attitude recipient
Class 2A State Championship
Final | Indianapolis Scecina 6, Elwood 2
Box Score | Recap
■ Final Records: Indianapolis Scecina (26-4), Elwood (27-5)
■ Crusaders Capture 2A Softball Crown
■ Rachel Cox of Indianapolis Scecina earns Mental Attitude Award
Class 3A State Championship
Final | New Palestine 13, Kankakee Valley 6
Box Score | Recap
■ Final Records: New Palestine (31-2), Kankakee Valley (22-9)
■ New Palestine Powers to a 3A Softball Title
■ Dragon's Elisha Barker honored as Mental Attitude Award winner
Class 4A State Championship
Final | Crown Point 2, Avon 1
Box Score | Recap
■ Final Records: Crown Point (30-2), Avon (23-9)
■ Crown Point hangs on to win 4A Championship
■ Alexis Holloway of Crown Point recognized as Mental Attitude recipient