Ballentine's 2-run double in 6th the difference in CP's 2-0 Regional title win over Chesterton

A USA-365 special report by Mark Smith


CP's Caitlyn Phillips throws out a Chesterton runner in regional action. The regional final was scoreless until the sixth inning. (Photo by Mark Smith)
CP base-runner Grace Frazier leads off third base while Trojan third baseman Cassady Grimm watches the pitch.
CP pitcher Brinkley Kita struck out six in five innings. Kita allowed just two base hits.
CP's Mallory McMahon was 1-for-3 at the plate and she scored the Bulldogs' second run.
CP catcher Zoie Rettig didn't like every call at home plate. But the junior has aided CP's pitching run of 17 consecutive scoreless innings.
CP first base coach Gabby Raspopovich and base-runner Grace Frazier. Since a 2-3 start, Crown Point has won 26 of their last 27 games.
CP's Madi Elish celebrates the Bulldogs 2-0 win at Chesterton.
CP's Maggie Ballentine salutes the visitors dugout after her two-run double in the sixth inning at Chesterton.
CP seniors Caitlyn Phillips (left), Grace Frazier (center) and Brooke Manhatton are tired but happy as CP won the 4A regional title for a second time in three years.
CP's Madi Elish poses with the regional 'trophy' Elish has finished all four CP playoff games so far.
CP catcher Zoie Rettig celebrates with teammate Delaney Adams (00) after the Bulldogs won the regional title at Chesterton.
CP's Caitlyn Phillips gets some 'shade' from the regional championship plaque after the Bulldogs beat Chesterton for the regional softball title. Phillips also played on CP's regional championship basketball team in February. (All photos by Mark Smith)

Copyright © 2019 and Meyer Multimedia Services, a division of Meyer Broadcasting Corp.  All rights reserved.
Revised: May 31, 2019.


Team (Record) / Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
CROWN POINT (28-4) 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 5 1
CHESTERTON (21-7-1)  0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 1

Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - 59 degrees and cloudy, 6 p.m. start in CHESTERTON, IN
WP – Brinkley Kita (6-1) 6K, 1 walk (5 inn.)
Madi Elish (Save #4) 4K, 0 walks (2 inn.)
LP – Lindsey Benko (13-4) CG, 4K, 3 walks

Caitlyn Phillips (3B) 0-for-4, RBI
Madi Elish (DP-P) 2-for-3, Int walk
Anna Hollaway (SS) 0-for-4
Mallory McMahon (CF) 1-for-3
Maggie Ballentine (2B) 2-for-3, double
Katie Neal (RF) 0-for-2
Grace Frazier (1B) 0-for-1, 2 walks
Zoie Rettig © 1-for-3
Brinkley Kita (P) 0-for-1, sac bunt
Madi Young (PH) 0-for-1
Delaney Adams (PH) 0-for-0 sac bunt

Chesterton (21-7-1)
Maddie Snemis (SS) 0-for-3
Cassady Grimm (3B) 0-for-3
Lexi Benko (P) 1-for-3
Micaela Iacovetti © 1-for-3
Gillian Price (LF) 0-for-3
Kaitlyn Carr (2B) 2-for-3
Lauren Kobialka (DP) 0-for-3
Marney Sisson (1B) 0-for-3
Faith Matta (CF) 0-for-2, walk

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CHESTERTON (05-28-2019) The Indiana High School softball state tournament uses a hurry-up format.

Crown Point’s 2-0 win over Chesterton in the 4A regional championship game Tuesday night was the Lady Bulldogs’ fourth playoff win in eight days.

But the big dance is the semistate where to survive, you have to win twice on the same day. Four teams go in. Only one comes out. It's a long day. It's hot. And it might rain.

So, let’s dance.

Crown Point (28-4) will play Fishers (22-10) in the semifinals of the Harrison Semistate Saturday, June 1 at 12 noon (1 p. EDT).

Fishers will face a Crown Point pitching staff that has allowed just one run total in four games. The combination of freshman right-hander Brinkley Kita (6-1) and sophomore ‘closer’ Madi Elish (13-4) combined for a four-hit shutout at Chesterton (21-7-1). That’s four days after those two combined on a two-hit shutout at Lake Central in the 4A Sectional 1 championship.

CP won again because their young pitchers shut down the opposition early and one of their seniors got a big base hit late. Second baseman Maggie Ballentine lined a two-out, two-run double to left center field in the sixth inning off Chesterton star Lexi Benko to score the only runs of a chilly May night.

Ballentine, who walked to force in a key run in the 3-1 sectional quarterfinal win over Munster, stepped up and came through against Benko, a tall right-hander who will play next year at Indiana State University.

She wanted the chance.

“You want to play in these games,” Maggie said under the artificial light of the post-game celebration. “It's more adrenaline than anything else.”

Many player on different teams are summer league teammates. Ballentine and Benko are.

“I consider her a friend. I've known her for a long time. But I can't think about that. It was a battle and I wasn't going to let her win.”

CP set up the winning runs with a one-out single by sophomore Madi Elish and a two-out single from senior Mallory McMahon. McMahon stole second base and Ballentine who, like McMahon, started on CPs state title team two years ago, came through with her second hit of the night.

“That hit was huge,” said CP coach Pete Iussig of Ballentine, who hadn’t had a hit in the post-season so far. “At practice the other day, I told her, 'you look fine to me. Don’t change a thing.'”

The surprising run of freshman pitcher Brinkley Kita (6-1) continued. Kita started for the fourth consecutive game and pitched five scoreless innings. In the post-season, Kita, a 14-year-old right-hander, has pitched 13 consecutive scoreless innings with 18 strikeouts and one walk.

“If she'd have gotten into trouble,” said Iussig. “Madi Young (9-1, 1.71 ERSA) was coming in and Elish was going to finish.

Iussig said that part of the three pitcher rotation is so the opposition won't see any one pitcher more than twice.
But he let Kita go five full innings at Chesterton.

“I thought she was on a roll,” he said.

Elish (13-2, 1.58 ERA) not only pitched the final two shutout innings, she was also 2-for-3 with a walk. Few players have more outward confidence at the plate.

“I know that pitchers like to get ahead,” she said. “They want to get ahead in the count. So the first pitch she throws, I’m just going to go for it.”

Madi seems to be blessed with virtual certainty no matter the circumstances.

“It's always the same,” she said of her confidence level. “Like if I go 1-for-1 and I go up again, I know I've seen that pitcher and I know what can do. It's not necessarily gaining confidence.”

Coach Iussig didn’t know whether CP’s state title veterans (5 starters in Tuesday night started the 2017 state championship game against Avon) feel a lot of pressure because of that title.

“They’re really good about handling pressure,” he said after CP won for the 28th time in 32 games. “Somebody needs to talk to me about that. At Lowell (Iussig coached Lowell for 25 years) we were in some big games but we were always the underdog. There’s not nearly as much pressure when you aren't favored to win.”

“We’re favored a lot here. I’m not used to that. When we played Lake Central (in the sectional title game) we weren’t favored. That was much more fun. I knew it was going to be a battle tonight and it was.”

REGIONAL NOTES: There is a significant chance of rain Saturday in the Lafayette area. Since CP vs. Fishers is the second semifinal, the 12 noon starting time is very tentative. Harrison officials will certainly wait until the cows come home for the rain to stop because the alternative of playing a rainout game Monday is not an option anyone wants to exercise.

The other half of the Harrison 4A semistate bracket features CP’s long-distance rival Penn (23-6). But the Kingsmen may not get through to the semistate title game because they have to get past Leo (23-1). The Lions feature the tag team pitching pair of undefeated 5-foot-10 junior Ashley Miller (12-0, 0.29 ERA), who has struck out 120 batters in 72 innings and senior MacKenzie Rust (11-1, 0.59 ERA), who has 138 strikeouts in 71 innings.

The Class 4A state title favorite is probably perennial superpower Center Grove (25-3), led by double threat Abby Herbst, who is hitting (46 of 85) .541 with 37 RBIs.

Herbst is also Center Grove’s ace pitcher with a record of 18-3, an earned run average of 0.47 and 194 strikeouts and just 15 walks in 144 innings.

CP lost a run in the seventh inning Tuesday night when the home plate umpire ruled that Caitlin Phillips had stepped out of the batters box before hitting a slap ground ball to second base for an RBI. That’s a call that’s rarely seen at the high school level.

Phillips was 1-for-3 and she is probably the first CP girl to ever start on two regional championship teams in the same calendar year.

The senior third baseman started at guard in February when CP’s 28-1 basketball team won the 4A regional.

Fishers sophomore Hannah Mays (14-6) has pitched consecutive shutouts against Hamilton Southeastern in an 8-0 sectional win and Harrison in a 3-0 regional win. Fishers is a strong offensive team with six girls bating .400 or better.

Crown Point pitching has a string of 17 consecutive scoreless innings. CP also has not trailed in the post-season. Broadcast Note: We plan to follow the Crown Point Bulldogs girls softball team throughout the IHSAA tournament, as long as they remain alive in the post-season. (See schedule and season results below.) Mark Smith will take photos and report from the Crown Point-Fishers Class 4A Semi-State game Saturday, June 1 at Harrison (West Lafayette) High School. Scheduling conflicts will defer our live Internet radio coverage on of Crown Point Softball until next week (June 8), if CP advances to the state finals at Purdue West Lafayette's Bittinger Stadium.

2019 (4A) Crown Point (28-4)
25-6 (2018), 30-2 (2017), 28-2 (2016), 29-3 (2015), 29-1 (2014)
All DAC games in CAPS

3-27 (W) 10-0 PORTAGE (7-19)
4-2 (W) 6-4 at CHESTERTON (21-6-1)
4-3 (L) 2-6 at 4A No. 1 LAKE CENTRAL (26-4)
4-4 (L) 0-3 Munster (25-7)
4-8 (L) 2-6 (Chicago) Marist (33-2)
4-9 (W) 20-0 (5 inn.) MICHIGAN CITY
4-10 (W) 15-3 (5 inn.) LaPORTE
4-13 (W) 10-6 at Harrison (19-6)
4-13 (W) 4-2 at Harrison (19-6)

4-16 (W) 12-0 (5 inn.) at VALPARAISO (12-10)
4-17 (W) 12-0 (5 inn.) MERRILLVILLE

Lakeshore (Michigan) Invitational
4-20 (W) 7-2 Edwardsburg, Mich. (28-9)
4-20 (W) 9-1 (Stevensville, Mich.) Lakeshore (27-10)
4-20 (W) 11-1 (6 inn.) Caledonia, Mich (21-10)

4-23 (W) 13-2 (5 inn.) at PORTAGE (7-19)
4-24 (W) 3-2 CHESTERTON (21-6-1)
4-25 (W) 7-3 at Penn (21-6)
4-30 (Rain) 4A No. 1 LAKE CENTRAL (26-4)
5-1 (Rain) at MICHIGAN CITY
5-4 (W) 6-0 Boone Grove (20-6)
5-4 (W) 8-1 Boone Grove (20-6)
5-6 (L) 0-1 Lake Central (26-4)
5-7 (W) 13-0 (5 inn.) at LaPorte (16-11)
5-8 (W) 11-0 VALPARAISO (12-10)
5-9 (W) 13-0 LaPORTE (16-11)
5-11 (W) 3-2 Carmel (13-9)
5-11 (W) 5-2 (3A) No. 1 New Palestine (27-3)

5-13 (W) 10-0 (5 inn.) Highland
5-14 (W) 11-0 (5 inn.) at MERRILLVILLE
5-15 (W) 9-2 Lowell (16-10)

4A Sectional 1 (at LC)
5-21 (W) 4-0 Kankakee Valley (14-14)
5-22 (W) 3-1 Munster (25-7)
5-23 (W) 2-0 Lake Central (26-4)

4A Regional

5-28 (W) 2-0 at Chesterton (21-7-1)

4A Semistate at Lafayette Harrison
6-1 (Sat) vs. Fishers (22-10) 12 noon CDT (1 p.m. EDT)

State Finals at Bittinger Stadium, Purdue University, West Lafayette
6-8 (Sat) South Semi-State winner vs. North Semi-State winner 6:30 p.m. CDT (7:30 p.m. EDT)