A USA-365 special report by Mark Smith
|CP's Alexis Holloway pitched 20 innings Saturday at the Harrison Semistate allowing one run and six hits. (All photos by Mark Smith)|
|Crown Point senior Lexi Madrigal gets set to hit in the semifinals. Madrigal was 4-for-7 on the day.|
|CP senior MacKenzie Dunlap looks across the field at Hamilton Southeastern and a chance to reach the state softball finals.|
|CP's Mallory McMahon isn't sure about that last umpire's call. McMahon is one of four sophomores who started for Crown Point at the semistate last Saturday.|
|CP seniors shake hands with Hamilton Southeastern's Kaylee Carter before Saturday's semistate championship game. Crown Point won 3-0 to reach the state final for the first time in the history of the program.|
|Crown Point coach Pete Iussig coached Lowell for 25 years... and his teams got to the state semifinals twice. Saturday's game with Avon will be his first time ever coaching the state title game.|
|Lowell assistant coach Jim Chancellor calls pitches from the dugout in Saturday's semistate game. Chancellor and coach Pete Iussig coached at Lowell for 25 seasons before coming to CP this year.|
|CP first baseman Grace Frazier holds HSE baserunner Danielle Planet (15) on first base in the second inning of the semistate championship game. Planet was the only HSE baserunner as CP won 3-0.|
|CP's Lydia Byrd charges a base hit in the semistate semifinals. CP has not trailed in any of five games in the state tournament so far.|
|Crown Points Alexis Holloway fires away in the semistate title game against Hamilton Southeastern. Holloway struck out 16 in the semistate championship game.|
|The sun was setting on the Saturday landscape outside West Lafayette, but the Harrison high people left the final score on the scoreboard a few minutes longer for the visitors from Crown Point.|
|CP seniors Stephanie Renner, right, Lexi Madrigal (middle) MacKenzie Dunlap pose with the little metal panel that signals how far you've come in the state tournament. The big trophy sits in Indianapolis and the Lady Bulldogs will be there for the state championship game Saturday, June 11 at 6:30 p.m. CDT. (All photos by Mark Smith)|
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|Team (Record) / Inning||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|CROWN POINT (29-2)||1||0||1||0||1||0||0||3||3||0|
|Hamilton Southeastern (18-9)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||2|
Saturday, June 3, 2017 -
Sunny, 88-degrees, sunny, 4A Semistate Championship game in WEST LAFAYETTE,
WP: Alexis Holloway (21-1) CG, 16 strikeouts, 0 walks
LP: Alexis Macha (8-5) CG, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk
CROWN POINT (29-2)
MacKenzie Dunlap (SS) 1-for-3, stolen base
Grace Frazier (1B) 0-for-3
Alexis Holloway (P) 1 for-2, double, walk
Maggie Ballentine (LF) 0-for-3
Mallory McMahon (CF) 0-for-3
Caitlyn Phillips (LF) 0-for-3
Zoie Rettig (DH) 0-for-3
Lydia Byrd (RF) 0-for-2
Lexi Madrigal (C) 1 for 2
HAMILTON SOUTHEASTERN (18-9)
Abby Taylor (LF) 0-for-3
Nicole Dillow (SS) 0-for-3
Jordan Rager (2B) 0-for-3
Libby Ratliff (3B) 0-for-3
Ashton Kiehl (C) 1-for-2
Nicole Lang (DH) 0-for-2
Kaylee Carter (1B) 0-for-2
Kaelin Wincek (PH) 0-for-2
Ahliza Moore (RF) 0-for-2
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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)