A USA-365 special report by Mark Smith
|Penn coach Beth Zachary led the top-ranked Class 4A team against Crown Point in the (West Lafayette) Harrison semistate semifinals. (All photos by Mark Smith)|
|CP second baseman Maggie Ballentine waits for a high hop to come down against Penn. The two teams played for three hours in 90-degree heat.|
|CP third baseman Natalie Klingberg gets set to throw out a Penn batter. The Bulldogs led 1-0 until the seventh inning.|
|Penn pitcher Danielle Watson schemes to keep CP off the scoreboard. The right-hander was 20-2 this season and 73-9 in her four year career.|
|Crown Point pitcher Alexis Holloway and catcher Lexi Madrigal plot to stop a Penn team that scored 308 runs in their first 28 games.|
|CP's outfield of Lydia Byrd (right), Mallory McMahon (middle) and Caitlyn Phillips wonder how long this game will last as the 13th inning is about to begin.|
|Penn second baseman Maddy Newman throws out a CP runner. The Kingsmen defense kept close tin the semistate semifinal battle with Crown Point.|
|Penn catcher Sydney Middleton tags out CP pinch runner Emma Lewandowski in the eighth inning. Lewandowski was trying to score the winning run on a base hit by Caitlyn Phillips.|
|CP's Alexis Holloway celebrates another inning-ending strikeout against Penn. Holloway ended seven of the 13 innings with strikeouts.|
|CP pinch runner Brooke Manhatton knows she's about to score the winning run against Penn Saturday in the semistate semifinals.|
|CP girls celebrate the win over Penn after a two out RBI double by Grace Frazier (still with the batting helmet).|
|The Gracie Frazier fan club came all the way to West Lafayette Saturday to see Grace drive in the winning run as 4A No. 3 Crown Point defeated 4A No. 1 Penn 2-1 in 13 innings. (All photos by Mark Smith)|
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|Team (Record) / Inning||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||R||H||E|
|No. 1 PENN (27-2)||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||5||1|
|No. 3 CROWN POINT (28-2)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||2||9||1|
Saturday, June 3, 2017 -
Sunny, 91-degrees, sunny, 4A Semistate Semifinal game in WEST LAFAYETTE,
WP: Alexis Holloway (20-1) CG, 19 strikeouts, 7 walks
LP: Danielle Watson (20-2) CG, 6 strikeouts, 7 walks
Maddy Newman (2B) 3-for-6, double
Katie Quinlan (CF) 0-for-5, walk
MacKenzie Griman (1B) 0-for-3, 3 walks
Danielle Watson (P) 1-for-5, triple, run scored, sac bunt
Brenna Brown (SS) 1-for-4, 2 walks
Alexi Clay (LF) 0-for-6
Sydney Middleton (C) 0-for-6
Jessica Buckey (3B) 0-for-5
Lillie Ledbetter (RF) 0-for-4
CROWN POINT (28-2)
MacKenzie Dunlap (SS) 0-for-4, 3 walks
Grace Frazier (1B) 2-for-7, double, RBI
Alexis Holloway (P) 0-for-6
Maggie Ballentine (LF) 0-for-3, 3 walks
Mallory McMahon (CF) 1-for-5, sac bunt
Caitlyn Phillips (LF) 3-for-6
Zoie Rettig (DH) 0-for-5, sac bunt
Lydia Byrd (RF) 0-for-3, 2 walks
Lexi Madrigal (C) 3-for-6, double
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WEST LAFAYETTE (6-03-2017) When Saturday's Semistate championship game was over, I followed all the Crown Point people to the parking lot, annoying them with questions about the games.
Everybody wanted to go home.
It was late and Harrison is in the middle of nowhere.
Beautiful place, but there's no stores, shops or gas stations nearby. Few homes close to the school. Just rolling hills and quiet two-lane roads outside West Lafayette.
I'd parked back up the hill at the high school so I had to walk up the road about 300 yards to my car, a long, slow walk on the hottest night of the year.
When I opened the car door, I turned around to look back at the field and everyone was gone. No buses. No people. The parking lot was empty. It was almost dark. Everyone was gone and the whole campus was silent.
It was like nothing ever happened.
Something definitely happened Saturday. Not only did Crown Point return to the state finals for the first time in 32 years and reach the state title game for the first time ever. Crown Point defeated the state's top-ranked team to do it.
CP's long walk up the hill included a 2-1, 13-inning victory over 4A No.1 Penn and a 3-0 evening win over Hamilton Southeastern that put a CP varsity girls team into a state title game for just the fifth time in the entire history of Crown Point high school.
Crown Point (29-2) will play 2016 4A state champion Avon (23-8) at Ben Davis high school this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. Eastern Time), trying to win CP's first girls state title in any sport since Tom May's basketball Lady Bulldogs won back in 1985.
The 13-inning game against top-ranked Penn (27-2) was one of the great battles in recent years, a showdown of the big school teams ranked one and two (CP ended up rated third in Class 4A) for most of the 2017 season.
Penn, the defending Semistate champ (they lost the state title game 4-3 to Avon in 2016), came in averaging 10 runs a game and staring a pitcher in senior Danielle Watson (20-2), who had won 20 games for the third season in a row.
Crown Point countered with senior Alexis Holloway (21-1) who had lost just three times in her four-year career.
Watson walked two in the first inning, but should have gotten out of the inning when she struck out CP's Mallory McMahon with two out. But the ball got past sophomore catcher Sydney Middleton and McMahon reached first base to fill the bases. Sophomore Caitlyn Phillips then sliced a slow bouncing ball to Penn shortstop Brenna Brown. Phillips beat the throw to first and CP led 1-0. An error and two singles filled the bases again in the bottom of the second inning but Watson got Zoie Retting to bounce out to Brown at short.
Holloway, who had never faced Penn, didn't allow a hit until Brown's first inning single. Maddy Newman lined a sixth inning double to left center but, when Holloway struck out MacKenzie Griman to end that inning, it looked like CP would win 1-0.
But Watson, who hit .456 in her first 28 games, sliced a pitch deep into the right field corer for a triple leading off the seventh inning. Pitching carefully, Holloway walked Brown and struck out Alexi Clay. Then, Sydney Middleton bunted towards first. The throw home got away from CP catcher Lexi Madrigal and Watson scored the tying run, to the delight of about 100 Penn fans from St. Joseph's County.
Holloway must have been tiring in the unexpected 90-degree heat, but she struck out Jessica Buckey and Lillie Ledbetter to end the seventh inning.
Watson, who pitched 11 scoreless innings in a row, walked a batter in the eighth, ninth and 10th innings, but her infield made solid defensive plays behind her to keep the game tied.
Holloway, who ended up striking out the side in the sixth and seventh, also got strikeouts to end the eighth, ninth and 10th. In the 10th inning, Holloway struck out Watson with two runners on base and her career-high 20th strikeout was against Sydney Middleton with two runners on base in the 13th.
Crown Point almost won the game in the bottom of the eighth inning. With pinch runner Emma Lewandowski at second base, CP's Caitlyn Phillips sliced a single to left field. Penn left fielder Alexis Clay charged the ball and made a strong throw home. Lewandowski stumbled rounding third and was out on a collision at home.
In the 12th inning, with two on and two out, Phillips grounded out to short. But in the 13th, Lexi Madrigal lined a double down the left field line with two out. MacKenzie Dunlap walked on a 3-2 pitch and Grace Frazier, a .389 hitter who had just one extra base hit all season, lined a solid double to left center to score pinch runner Brooke Manhatton and end the battle of elite teams.
"I knew right off the bat," Grace said later about her game-winning hit. "I think they thought I was going to slap and they were up. So, right when I hit it I knew. This was great. The seniors are great. The whole teams' great."
Holloway said that even though CP only scored once, the base runners they had early on gave the team confidence against Watson, who was 73-9 in four seasons.
"Absolutely," she said. "Anytime you can load the bases against a pitcher like Danielle, it's awesome. I've played against her in the summer and she's one heck of a pitcher. Never played with her, but she's a fantastic pitcher and a fantastic player. I have all the respect in the world for her."
"You've just got to keep pushing and keep having confidence in your team. We had a game plan and it was working. We just had to stay with it."
USA-365.com Broadcast Note: Internet radio USA-365.com plans to provide play-by-play coverage of the Crown Point Bulldogs Softball team in their 4A state championship game with the Avon Orioles (23-8) on Saturday, June 10 beginning with the pregame show at 6:15 p.m. CDT (7:15 p.m. EDT).
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 at the IHSAA Class 4A state Finals this weekend at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis!
Be sure to check the USA-365.com website schedule for updates on the Lady Bulldogs throughout the tournament.
IHSAA State Finals Schedule:
Class A State Championship | Tecumseh (22-9) vs. Tri (25-3) | 9:30 a.m. CDT (10:30 a.m. EDT)
Class 2A State Championship | Indianapolis Scecina (25-4) vs. Elwood (27-4) | 12:30 p.m. CDT (1:30 p.m. EDT)
Class 3A State Championship | New Palestine (30-2) vs. Kankakee Valley (22-8) | 3:30 p.m. CDT (4:30 p.m. EDT)
Class 4A State Championship | Avon (23-8) vs. Crown Point (29-2) | 6:30 p.m. CT (7:30 p.m. EDT)