Northwest Indiana's High School 'Renegade' 2018,
Week-4 'Magnificent 7' Girls Softball Poll


A Special Report by Mark Smith

Crown Point freshmen Madi Elish (19) and Anna Holloway (24) man their positions in the Sparta Dome, an indoor athletic facility on the east side of Crown Point. With weather unplayable outside, the Bulldogs played a double-header against Harrison indoors Saturday, probably the first-ever indoor game actually approved by the IHSAA.
(Photo by Mark Smith)

ST. JOHN (04-16-2018) The brutal spring weather again limited play last week until Class 4A No. 5 Crown Point found a way to play. They played a double-header against visiting Class 4A No. 12 (West Lafayette) Harrison indoors.

CP was able to arrange it to get time in the giant Sparta Dome on the east side of town where youth softball apparently is played regularly.

The ball hit the roof a few times (had the location of the field been reversed, home plate would have been under the highest point of the dome, eliminating that problem) but other than that, there were no major issues. Crown Point (6-1) won the opener 9-4, Harrison (5-1) won the second game 1-0. Neither outcome was affected by playing inside and both sides went home reasonably happy.

The bottom line was: Two games that would have been cancelled (Harrison could not possibly play a double-header at Crown Point on a week day and most other Saturdays are booked solid with other games) were played.

Obviously, every team doesn't have a giant dome (neither does CP, they rented it) they can play in and most everybody would rather play outdoors. But the fact that the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) agreed to let games played indoors actually count suggests they, at the very least, are sensitive to the problem of the annual lack of playable spring weather in Northwest Indiana.

Defending state champ Crown Point is not the top-ranked 4A school and neither is undefeated Lake Central. Center Grove (9-0) has fairly well established themselves as the top ranked big school after three weeks. The Trojans outscored their first nine teams by a combined score of 96-11. Junior pitcher Abby Hurst (6-0, 0.39 ERA) is 35-2 in her three seasons. Center Grove's biggest accomplishment may be that they've been able to get on the field and play nine games already.

1. (4A) Lake Central (8-0)
23-9 (2017), 24-7 (2016), 29-7-1 (2015), 20-9 (2014), 23-7 (2013)

St. JOHN: LC continued to dominate their opponents. LC topped Decatur Central 8-1 and Pendleton Heights 10-0 on April 7. Then the Indians topped Merrillville 16-0, Valparaiso 9-3 and Portage 10-2 on consecutive days. After nine games, LC had outscored the opposition 82-15 and they were batting .379 as a team with 11 home runs. Senior pitcher Alexa Pinarski (5-0, 1.17 ERA) had 27 strikeouts in 30 innings. The Indians had a big game scheduled with rival Crown Point (6-1) on April 16 but there is no indication that a dry weather period or a heat wave is about to hit Northwest Indiana in the month of April. This coming weekend (April 20-21) LC travels to play Noblesville, 4A No. 7 Avon (4-1) and 4A No. 3 Cathedral.

2. (4A) Kankakee Valley (4-0)
22-9 (2017), 29-6 (2016), 19-12 (2015), 16-13 (2014)

WHEATFIELD: KV just can't get on the field. The only person they've lost games to so far is Mother Nature. They played a total of four games in the first three weeks and they lost three games (Franklin Central, Mishawaka Marian and LC) in last week's cancelled Lake Central Invitational, where again, only one can get out of the sectional. So far, the Kougars have a 10-0 win over Morgan Township, a 20-2 win over Andrean and wins over Merrillville 26-0 and Highland 15-2. Those are great numbers against teams with losing records. The Kougars have displayed great offensive power and solid pitching the few times anyone has seen them on the field playing an actual game. I'd bet KV will reschedule that LC game and they play at Crown Point (6-1) on May 7. They're trying, but you want to play 25-26 games. But by Sunday, April 15, they had played four.

3. (4A) Crown Point (6-1)
30-2 (2017), 28-2 (2016), 29-3 (2015), 29-1 (2014), 25-5 (2013), 25-8 (2012)

CROWN POINT: The questions about Crown Point's pitching fade away once you see freshman right-handers Madi Young and Madi Elish. Young (3-0) gave up 10 hits, but pitched a complete game win over Harrison 9-4 last Saturday in CP's Sparta Dome. Harrison topped CP in game two 1-0 but Elish (3-1) struck out seven and allowed just four hits. Young has 17 strikeouts and three walks in her first 18 varsity innings while Elish, who gave up 17 hits in her debut against Portage, has allowed just 13 hits in her last three starts. CP's pitching will be very good.

And, despite the shutout against Harrison right-hander Jillian Mathis, the Bulldogs appear to be able to support their freshmen pitchers at the plate. CP junior Caitlyn Phillips had 12 hits in her first 25 at-bats. Senior catcher Hannah Grady was 10 of 16. And the Bulldogs, who hit just seven home runs in 32 games in their run to the 2017 state title, lifted nine homers in their first seven games. Freshman shortstop Anna Holloway (8 of 18, .444) had five home runs and 10 RBIs in her first seven games. Junior centerfielder Mallory McMahon (11 of 23, .478) had two homers and nine RBIs in six games. CP still has two games to play with rival Lake Central (8-0) and in May will match up with Class 3A No. 1 New Palestine (3-0) and 2017 state Class 3A runner up Kankakee Valley (4-0).

4. (4A) Chesterton (5-2)
25-7 (2017), 17-8 (2016), 17-9 (2015), 18-14 (2014), 22-5 (2013), 21-11 (2012)

CHESTERTON: The Trojans lost a tough one, 3-2 at Crown Point last week and had a rematch rained out. They also rolled over Merrillville 18-0 and Valparaiso 11-3. In the 11-3 win over Valparaiso, shortstop Kristi Stevens hit a three-run home run and right-hander Lexi Benko (3-1) struck out nine. The Trojans had an 11-day break due to bad weather, but they have back to back games May 24-25 with LC (8-0) and CP (6-1). Chesterton also has a May 18 game with Munster (5-2). Nothing that has happened so far has taken away any of the optimism they had before the season began. But like everybody else, the scheduled and make-up games (or rainouts) are about to come at Chesterton so fast they won't have time to worry about the results.

5. (4A) Munster (5-2)
16-11 (2017), 7-15 (2016), 13-17 (2015), 16-9 (2014)

MUNSTER: The Mustangs ended NW Indiana's 3-day spring last week with an 8-7, 9-inning win over Class 3A No. 3 (South Bend) St. Joseph's. Senior Amy Kaniewski (3-1, 1.84 ERA) has 28 strikeouts in her first 19 innings. Sophomore Daija Williams (11 of 25, .440) and senior Rebecca Radtke (11 of 28, .393) have continued to reach base for the Mustangs who had 22 stolen bases (in 23 attempts) after eight games. Munster has eight games scheduled from April 16 to 27, but colder, wetter weather will certainly limit that stretch. The Mustangs hope to play five times in the Twin Lakes Invitational on May 4-5 and Penn plays at Munster on May 11 before the post-season begins on May 21. So many postponements. So little time.

6. (4A) Lowell (3-1)
16-11 (2017), 7-15 (2016), 13-17 (2015), 16-9 (2014)

LOWELL: Lowell looks good when they can get on the field. The Devils topped Andrean 8-2, Munster 7-2 and Highland 10-3. Sophomore Haven Stanley (2-1, 1.26 ERA) allowed just six hits and a walk in a 7-2 win over Munster on April 11. Senior Haley Penman (8 of 14, .571) was 4-for-5 in a 10-3 win over Highland on April 10. But let's be real. Due to the weather, they didn't get on the field until April 2 and, as I'm writing this, Lowell hasn't played since April 11. The Devils could play as many as 22 games in the next five weeks. Or they could spend a lot of time in the field house with the heat on. It's a little out of their control.

7. (7A) Boone Grove (4-0)
23-4 (2017), 25-3 (2016), 24-4 (2015), 21-5 (2014)

PORTER TOWNSHIP: Boone hasn't played much but they haven't lost at all. Sophomore Haley Ferguson had nine hits in her first 15 at-bats. Sophomore Rachel Pate had seven hits in her first 13 times up. Boone's only senior Rachel Wilkening was six of 14 after four games. She is 92 of 237 (.388) in her four year, 81-game Boone career. Junior Kellie Marcheschi (4-0) has pitched all 27 innings and has recorded 43 strikeouts with only eight walks. Boone has defeated Griffith 3-1, Andrean 15-5, North Newton 11-6 and Kouts 5-0. The weather has gotten in the way of everything else. Boone plays Kankakee Valley (4-0) on April 17 (maybe) and they have Crown Point (6-1) and Hamilton Southeastern (4-3) on May 5 (possibly). The Wolves will be favored in the Porter County Conference (PCC) tournament on May 11-12, again weather permitting.

2018 CROWN POINT Bulldogs (6-1)
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 weekday games- 4:30 p.m.
March 26 (W) 13-0 (5 innings) at Hobart
March 28 (W) 12-7 at PORTAGE
April 4 (cold) 4A No. 6 LAKE CENTRAL
April 6 (snow) at Munster
April 9 (Mon) 4A No. 2 Lake Central
April 10 (W) 13-3 at MICHIGAN CITY
April 11 (W) 17-5 at LaPORTE
April 12 (W) 3-2 (make-up from April 3-rain) 4A No. 7 CHESTERTON
April 14 (W) 9-4 4A No. 13 (West Lafayette) Harrison
April 14 (L) 0-1 4A No. 13 (West Lafayette) Harrison
April 17 (Tues.) VALPARAISO
April 18 (Wed.) at MERRILLVILLE
April 24 (Tues.) PORTAGE
April 25 (Wed.) at 4A No. 7 CHESTERTON

Lakeshore Invitational
Lakeshore High School (Stevensville, Michigan) 11 a.m. (EST) round robin

April 28 (Sat) Lakeshore, Michigan
April 28 (Sat.) Edwardsburg, Michigan
April 28 (Sat) (Mishawaka, Ind.) Marian

May 1 (Tues.) at 4A No. 6 LAKE CENTRAL
May 3 (Thurs.) 4A No. 2 Penn - 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
May 8 (Wed.) LaPORTE
May 9 (Thurs.) at VALPARAISO
May 12 (Sat) at 3A No. 1 New Palestine - 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) quaterfinals - 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.

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Revised: April 15, 2018.