Lady Bulldogs split double-header with
West Lafayette Harrison inside Sparta Dome

A USA-365 special report by Mark Smith


CP shortstop Anna Holloway throws out a base runner in the giant Sparta Dome on Crown Point's northeast side. (All photos by Mark Smith)
CP freshman Madi Elish (19) pitches with the backdrop of the Sparta Dome roof behind her.
CP's Caitlyn Phillips (7) gets ready to bat leadoff for the Lady Bulldogs against Harrison.
CP first baseman Grace Frazier watches the pitch while Harrison freshman Anna Henderson takes her lead indoors against Crown Point.
CP's Yasmine Porter (21), Madison Pizer (5), Grace Frazier and Madi Adams (23) watch how the ball bounces on the artificial turf in the SpartaDome.
Crown Point freshman pitcher Madi Elish (19) and shortstop Anna Holloway (24) get set for the pitch in CP's first-ever indoor game in the SpartaDome on CP's northeast side.
Harrison junior pitcher Jill Mathis allowed just four base hits in the Raiders' 1-0 win over Crown Point.
CP freshman shortstop Anna Holloway (24) hit two home runs in CP's 9-4 win over Harrison.
CP second baseman Caitlyn Phillips warms up in the Sparta Dome, Cp's cold weather home for a day on April 14.
CP junior Mallory McMahon (24) had two of CP's four hits in the 1-0 loss to Harrison.
(All photos by Mark Smith)

Copyright 2018 and Meyer Multimedia Services, a division of Meyer Broadcasting Corp.  All rights reserved.
Revised: April 23, 2018.

Team (Record) / Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
W. LAFAYETTE HARRISON (4-1) 0 1 1 0 2 0 0 4 11 0
CROWN POINT (6-0)  0 1 2 1 5 0 - 9 13 1

Saturday, April 14, 2018 - Game #1 at the SpartaDome in CROWN POINT, IN
WP: Madi Young (3-0) CG, 8 strikeouts, 2 walks
LP: Jade Johnson (2-1) 4K, 2 walks (5 inn.)

Harrison (4-1)
Kiley Goff (2B) 0-for-4
Jocey Ramer (3B) 0-for-4
Kaeley Halada (RF) 1-for-2, 2 walks
Olivia Stansbury (1B) 2-for-3, sac bunt
Jillian Mathis (DH) 3-for-4, HR, 3 RBIs
Jade Johnson (P) 0-for-4
Anna Henderon (SS) 3-for-4
Katie Switzer (CF) 1-for-3, RBI
Kiara Dillon (LF) 0-for-3

Caitlyn Phillips (3B) 1-for-4, double, RBI
Grace Frazier (1B) 3-for-4, 3 RBIs
Mallory McMahon (CF) 0-for-3, walk
Maggie Ballentine (2B) 1-for-4, HR, RBI
Anna Holloway (SS) 2-for-3, walk
Hannah Grady (C) 0-for-3
Brooke Manhatton (LF) 1-for-3
Madi Young (P) 2-for-3
Lydia Byrd (RF) 3-for-3

Team (Record) / Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
W. LAFAYETTE HARRISON (5-1) 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 1 4 1
CROWN POINT (6-1)  0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 1

Saturday, April 14, 2018 - Game #2 at the SpartaDome in CROWN POINT, IN

WP: Jillian Mathis (3-0) CG, 5K, 2 walks
LP: Madi Elish (3-1) CG, 6Ks, 2 walks

Harrison (5-1)
Kiley Goff (2B) 1-for-4
Jocey Ramer (CF) 0-for-2, walk
Kaeley Halada (DH) 0-for-3
Olivia Stansbury (1B) 1-for-3, double
Jillian Mathis (P) 0-for-3
Anna Henderson (SS) 1-for-2, double, RBI, walk
Emma Henderson (3B) 1-for-3
Kenzie Rush (RF) 0-for-1
Addistyn Nunley (LF) 0-for-2 sac bunt

Caitlyn Phillips (3B) 0-for-4
Grace Frazier (1B) 0-for-3
Mallory McMahon (CF) 2-for-3, double
Maggie Ballentine (2B) 1-for-2, walk
Anna Holloway (SS) 1-for-2, walk
Zoie Rettig (C) 0-for-3
Madi Elish (P) 0-for-3
Michayla Greco (LF) 0-for-2
Madison Pizer (DH) 0-for-2

Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC)
as of April 23 - overall record in parenthesis
1.) CROWN POINT 7-0 (9-1)
2.) Lake Cenral 5-1 (10-1)
3.) Chesterton 6-2 (11-2)
4.) LaPorte 3-4 (5-4)
5.) Portgae 1-4 (1-5)
6.) Valparaiso 1-4 (1-4)
7.) Michigan City 0-3 (0-8)
8.) Merrillville 0-5 (0-8)

CROWN POINT (4-14-2018) The fact that 4A No. 6 Crown Point and 4A No.12 Harrison split a well-played double-header last Saturday was of interest to softball folks at those two schools. Of more interest to others might be where they played for five hours.

It was indoors. Inside the giant Sparta Dome that sits just southwest of the Junior Bulldog football fields on Crown Point's east side. Due to temperatures in the upper 30s and light rain, the mid-April long distance matchup had to be played inside or not at all. It is believed to be the first indoor softball game sanctioned by the Indiana High School Athletic Assocation (IHSAA).
Harrison coach Brooke El Othmani had to agree to play these two games against the defending Class 4A state champs indoors and she did.

"It's incredible competition," she said, adding that there was slim chance of rescheduling this double-header before the season ended.

"Probably not," she explained. "We have prom and a lot of other games on Saturdays and I know they do too. We really wanted to play them and that's the first time we've ever beaten them as far as I can remember."

Crown Point coach Pete Iussig said that the indoor game wasn't his idea.

"This is just the second time I've been in this building," said Iussig. "And the first time was a week or so before it opened. Butler and Loyola or somebody came in here and played (an exhibition) in here. So when I called the IHSAA, it helped that I could say that they've already played NCAA games in here."

"It was Grace Frazier's dad's idea. And you can't do it regularly. You have to pay to play here. We're just doing it because these games would have been rained out."

There were two problems with playing varsity softball indoors on this day. The home plate was set (probably for youth baseball and softball) in the corner of the Dome where the roof was relatively low. At least a dozen fair pop ups hit the roof and were ruled in play. Had the plate been set where the center field fence was, no pop ups would have come near the roof which might be over 200 feet in the air at its highest point.

The other issue was lighting. To old eyes it seemed dim, although the players didn't seem to mind much. Nobody appeared to react slowly to the ball being hit near them. It was adequate.

To be honest, the players weren't over-whelmed by playing indoors. I was not aware that youth softball games are played indoors quite a bit in similar facilities in cold weather areas. Several girls said they'd played indoors many times.

"It's just different more than anything else," said junior Crown Point second baseman Maggie Ballentine who hit her first career home run in the 9-4 win. "When you're little the ball doesn't hit the roof until you're about 12. It's just different. I'm not a big 'turf' person. I just prefer dirt. The light doesn't affect me (at the plate). It's more when you're in the infield. Seeing the ball come off the bat."

If the future is playing games indoors (and if the IHSAA does not move the season back into May and June, there will be more indoor games) some 'old school' players may not be on board.

"I hope not," Ballentine said. "I'd rather play outside."

"Most travel ball players have played at least one indoor tournament said Harrison coach Brooke El Othmani. "A lot of coaches don't like them, but most all girls who play travel ball have played indoors. They're used to it."

The two games were well played by state-rated teams. Harrison has seven girls committed to play in college and the 1-0 win in game two may have been their first victory over Crown Point in the short history of the series.

Junior Jill Mathis struck out Zoie Reddick and Madi Elsih to end the sixth inning after walking Anna Holloway intentionally to fill the bases.

In game one, Holloway hit two home runs and Ballentine's homer leading off the fifth inning broke a 4-4 tie.

"They've got two more pitchers," smiled Othmani, after seeing CP freshmen Elish and Young. "And Hollloway at short. They have a great program and a great coach. I told him (Iussig) that we'd come up and sit on the bus until we can get at least one game in. But then this idea came up."

CP NOTES: It costs $500 to rent the Sparta Dome so we can't expect high schools to suddenly start playing games indoors. I'm sure the owners of the building might like to give CP the building rent free whenever the weather makes playing outside impossible. But I'm more certain the SpartaDome owners prefer to rent the facility to customers who will actually pay them, as CPHS did Saturday.
After Saturdays' CP-Harrison double-header, two youth league softball teams moved onto the field and began warming up. During the CP-Harrison double-header, what appeared to be a game between two very young Cal Ripken baseball teams were playing.

CP's Maggie Ballentine said that playing on a team with two freshman pitchers isn't a big deal when it's the present CP pair of Madi Young and Madi Elish.

"I played with Madi Elish when I was younger," Maggie explained. "It's easy to have confidence in someone you've played with before. In travel ball, I play with the sophomores and Madi played 'up' (a grade) so a bunch of us were on the same team."

Crown Point may or may not have the pitching they had last year when All-state right-hander Alexis Holloway (now 17-10 after 27 starts as a freshman at Notre Dame) was still in school. That'd be a lot to ask. But the Lady Bulldogs appear to be significantly better on offense. More than one CP girl has improved at the plate. Anna Holloway (14 of 26, .538), a freshman shortstop, has five home runs in her first 10 games. Juniors Caitlin Phillips (16 of 33, .485), Mallory McMahon (15 of 30, .500) and Ballentine (10 or 26, .385) all have upped their early season batting averages over what they posted in 2017.

Crown Point hit seven home runs in 32 games in 2017. CP had 11 home runs after 10 games (most played in very cold weather) this spring.

Harrison freshmen Anna and Emma Henderson are both 5-foot-8 pitchers and catchers as well as infielders. Both are starters on the basketball team.

Our catcher (Kaeley Hallada) is going to Purdue. Our pitcher (Jade Johnson) is going to South Dakota State. Our sophomore catcher (Kiara Fillon) is verbally committed to Purdue. Mathis is 'verbal' to DePaul of Chicago. Our right fielder (Kenzie Rusk) is going to DePauw and some others are figuring it out. We've got a lot of talent and if you've got a group of motivated teenagers, you can do anything."

Harrsion and Crown Point could meet again only if both teams reach the Class 4A semistate tournament, which is to be played in June at Harrison.

2018 CROWN POINT Bulldogs (9-1)
30-2 (2017), 28-2 (2016), 29-3 (2015), 29-1 (2014), 25-5 (2013)
Coach Pete Iussig (2nd year) 30-2
Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) games in CAPs - all weekdays games- 4:30 p.m.
March 26 (W) 13-0 (5 innings) at Hobart
March 28 (W) 11-7 at PORTAGE
April 3 (rain) CHESTERTON
April 4 (rain) LAKE CENTRAL
April 6 (snow) at Munster
April 10 (W) 13-3 (5 inn.) at MICHIGAN CITY
April 11 (W.) 17-5 (6 inn.) at LaPORTE
April 12 (W) 3-2 CHESTERTON
April 14 (W) 9-4 (West Lafayette) Harrison
April 14 (L) 0-1 (West Lafayette) Harrison
April 15 (Snow) LAKE CENTRAL
April 17 (W) 10-0 VALPARAISO
April 18 (W) 10-0 (5 inn.) at MERRILLVILLE
April 19 (W) 13-4 LAKE CENTRAL (10-1)

April 24 (Tues.) PORTAGE
April 25 (Wed.) at 4A No. 7 CHESTERTON (11-2)

Lakeshore Invitational
Lakeshore high school (Stevensville, Michigan) 11 a.m. (EST) round robin

April 28 (Sat) Lakeshore, Michigan (4-1) 10:30 a.m.
April 28 (Sat.) Edwardsburg, Michigan (2-2) 12:30 p.m.
April 28 (Sat) (Mishawaka, Ind.) Marian (6-1) - 3 p.m.

May 1 (Tues.) at 4A No. 2 LAKE CENTRAL (10-1)
May 3 (Thurs.) 4A No. 5 Penn (5-2) 5 p.m.
May 5 (Sat) 4A No. 5 Hamilton Southeastern - 10 a.m.
May 5 (Sat) 2A No. 3 Boone Grove - 2 p.m.
May 7 (Tues.) at Kankakee Valley (5-0)
May 8 (Wed.) LaPORTE
May 9 (Thurs.) at VALPARAISO
May 12 (Sat) at 3A No. 1 New Palestine (11-0) 9 a.m. (CST)
May 12 (Sat) at Carmel - 11 a.m.
May 14 (Mon) at Highland
May 16 (Wed.) at Lowell

4A CROWN POINT Sectional 1
at Crown Point high school
May 21 (Mon) quarterfinals - 5 p.m.
May 22 (Tues.) quarterfinals - 5 p.m.
May 23 (Wed.) semifinals - 5 p.m.
May 24 (Thurs.) championship - 5 p.m.

May 29 (Tues) regional championship - TBA (one game)

4A Harrison Semistate
at Harrison high school (West Lafayette)

June 2 (Sat.) semifinals - 10 a.m.
June 2 (Sat.) championship - 7 p.m.

4A State championship game
at Ben Davis high school (Indianapolis)

June 9 (Sat.) 5 p.m.