Northwest Indiana's High School 'Renegade' 2018,
Week-6 'Magnificent 7' Girls Softball Poll


A Special Report by Mark Smith

Crown Point heads for the Lakeshore Saturday. They travel to play three games at Lakeshore high school in Stevensville, Michigan. During the Bulldogs' 2017 state championship run, CP lost to Lakeshore, which was 36-7 last season.
(Photo by Mark Smith)

ST. JOHN (04-25-2018) One trend that has defied the weather is that more home runs are leaving softball fields in Indiana.

For a moment, let's forget New Palestine, the 3A state champion which hit 57 home runs in 33 games last year and had 31 homers in their first nine games this spring.

Locally, Lake Central has 13 homers in 13 games. This from a team that hit 24 homers in 31 games last year. Crown Point hit seven home runs in 32 games all last year. Now, they have 11 homers after 10 games. Penn hit 21 homers in 29 games in 2017. Now they have nine homers (again in cold weather) after seven games.

Senior players graduate and new freshmen come in. But maybe that's the point. The size of the fields isn't changing and the near freezing April weather helps pitchers, not batters.

It's not an absolute rise. Franklin Central hit 20 homers in 28 games last year. This year, FC (8-2) has eight homers in 10 games. Kankakee Valley had 25 homers in 31 games last spring. This year so far: Seven in seven games. Hanover Central graduated a core of seniors so their home runs are down.

I don't have a theory that explains it all. Players are bigger and stronger, but that's been a continuing trend for a couple of decades. The distance between the pitcher and catcher was lengthened about 10 years ago, but the pitchers are bigger and stronger, too. Equipment (bats and gloves) have improved, but pitching has also improved.

Again, New Palestine has 33 home runs in nine games and no girl has more than eight. It's something. I'm just not sure what.

1. (4A) Lake Central (11-2)
23-9 (2017), 24-7 (2016), 29-7-1 (2015), 20-9 (2014), 23-7 (2013)

St. JOHN: I admit to being more than a little surprised in LC's 13-4 loss at Crown Point on April 19 and the 13-5 loss at Avon two days later. Lake Central hasn't allowed 19 runs total in their 11 victories this season. After taking the loss at CP, senior Anna Pinarski (7-1, 1.78 ERA) allowed just three hits and three walks in a complete game victory over 4A No. 3 Cathedral (8-3) Saturday.
In the loss at CP, LC was tied 4-4 when Crown Point scored nine runs in the sixth inning. In the loss to Avon, the 2016 state champ and the 2017 state runner-up, LC was tied 4-4 through seven innings before Avon (8-3) scored nine times in the eighth. Junior Gabbi Cara (16 of 42, .381) had five home runs and 15 RBIs in her first 12 games this season. LC continues to take on the world Friday when they play Penn (5-2) and Saturday when they host Mishawaka (5-3) and Franklin Central (8-2).

2. (4A) Crown Point (10-1)
30-2 (2017), 28-2 (2016), 29-3 (2015), 29-1 (2014), 25-5 (2013), 25-8 (2012)

CROWN POINT: When you go into the biggest game of the year and win it 13-4, it was a very good week. Crown Point scored nine times in the sixth inning to take their first meeting with rival Lake Central 13-4. Freshman Anna Holloway (14 of 26, .538, 5 home runs, 13 RBIs) has made a major impact batting behind Caitlyn Phillips (16 of 33, .485) Grace Frazier (14 of 29, .483), and Mallory McMahon (15 of 30, .500). Catcher Hannah Grady (13 of 25, .500) and Zoie Rettig (10 for 21, .476) are off to good starts as are freshman pitchers Madi Young (4-0, 2.39 ERA) and Madi Elish (5-1, 2.19 ERA). The Bulldogs beat Portage 8-2 on Tuesday (4-24-2018) to seal their 10th win of the seson. CP has rematches with Lake Central (11-2) and Chesterton (11-3) yet to play and they head to Stevensville, Michigan this week to take on (Stevensville) Lakeshore (6-2), Edwardsburg (5-3) and (Mishawaka) Marian (6-1). But the game that jumps out at you is the Saturday, May 12 morning game at 3A No.1 New Palestine (9-0). That's the team that has hit 33 home runs in nine games. THAT New Palestine.

3. (4A) Chesterton (11-2)

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

CHESTERTON: The Trojans still have only the 10-4 loss to Lake Central (11-2) and the 3-2 loss to Crown Point (9-1) on the dark side of their won-loss record. Right-hander Lexi Benko struck out 10 and pitched around four Trojan errors in a 7-3 win at Portage last week. Kari LaFreniere had a home run and two doubles. The Trojans shut out LaPorte 3-0 earlier in the week as Benko allowed just three base hits. Madie Snemis created the final score with a three-run homer. It's a big week as the Trojans get rematches with LC (4-24-2018) and CP (4-26-2018) before they take the long ride to Mishawaka (5-3) late Friday afternoon. Chesterton is in good shape schedule-wise, having played 13 games already, while other teams have not gotten on the field quite as often.

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

MUNSTER: I'm moving Munster up based on the fact that they've been on the field a little more, including the 6-5 win over Kankakee Valley last week. Pitcher Amy Kaniewski (4-1, 1.81 ERA) struck out eight in the complete game win over KV and she pitched the final inning in a 3-2 win over Highland two days later. I don't know who sophomore Emily Dato (2-1, 0.78 ERA) is but she struck out 17 in a complete game win over Bishop Noll. I realize that Noll isn't that strong a team this year, but 17 strikeouts for a sophomore suggests that I'd better learn how to pronounce Emily's last name. In nine innings so far, Dato has faced 35 batters and struck out 30 of them. Kankakee Valley gets a rematch with Munster at Munster on April 27. CP plays at Munster on April 30. Long range forecasts suggest that good weather will arrive in time for the 16-team Twin Lakes Invitational on May 4-5.

5. (4A) Kankakee Valley (6-1)
22-9 (2017), 29-6 (2016), 19-12 (2015), 16-13 (2014)

WHEATFIELD: KV has still only played seven games and they have a team batting average of .492 with 102 runs scored. Emma Maple (17 of 29, .586), Lindsey Stokes (15 of 30, .500), Ashley Fisher (13 of 26, .500), Maddie Swart (16 of 26, .615), Kaylee Barrett (13 of 26, .500) and Madey Flick (13 of 24, .542) are among the many with many, many base hits. KV did lose 6-5 to Munster, which may say more about Munster than it says about KV. Emma Maple (4-1, 1.36 ERA) gave up just four earned runs against Munster. Kankakee Valley, which has 104 runs scored in seven games, still has Crown Point and Lake Central (and about 16 other teams) left to play in the final month. This team has to be allowed to get on the field. It's not like girls can't play every day once the weather gets better. But late in the season, I think teams (read: coaches) would like a few good weather practice days as well as nice game days.

6. (4A) Lowell (5-2)
16-11 (2017), 7-15 (2016), 13-17 (2015), 16-9 (2014)

LOWELL: Only seven games? Seven. Just like Kankakee Valley, Lowell can't be all they can be until they get to play regularly. Sophomore Haven Stanley (4-2) has started five of the seven games and she has 18 strikeouts in 24 innings. Haley Penman (10 of 22, .455), Ryleigh Marsh (9 of 20, .450) and Sydney Siedentopf (11 of 23, .478) lead the Devils who are hitting .360 as a team. Lowell has to get on the field. They've lost to KV (6-1) and Lake Central (11-2), two superior teams. The Devils haven't lost any games they should have won and they haven't won any games they should have lost. The Devils have to get on the field. There's only a month left in the season and they've hardly started. Lowell has six games scheduled this week and the weather looks good, finally. Let's play ball.

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

PORTER TOWNSHIP: Little has changed here as Boone still hasn't played very much and they haven't lost at all. Junior Kellie Marcheschi (5-0, 1.31 ERA) has pitched all 33 innings and has 52 strikeouts. Boone has outscored five opponents 46-12, but they have as many as 20 games left in the final four weeks. Junior Emily Zoll (.688) has 11 hits in 16 at bats. Sophomore Haley Ferguson (.692) has nine hits in her first 13 at bats. Marcheschi (.611) has 11 hits in her first 18 at bats. But they'd all like a few more at bats. Boone plays a twice-postponed game with Kankakee Valley (6-1) someday and they have Crown Point (9-1) and Hamilton Southeastern (7-4) on May 5. I don't know how good they are defensively, but when your pitcher strikes out almost two batters an inning it doesn't always matter.

2018 CROWN POINT Bulldogs (10-1)
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 (W) 8-2 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.

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Revised: April 25, 2018.