CROWN POINT | In the first 10 games of the season, Crown Point’s victories entailed a heavy dose of pitching with strikeouts galore.
On Wednesday against a team almost doing as well this season and a Duneland Athletic Conference rival, it was a stellar defensive play that helped the pitchers.
With the Times No. 1 Bulldogs up 1-0 in the top of the third inning, Portage's Kaitlin Doud smashed a ball into left-center field. With a runner on first after a walk, it looked like a rally was brewing. But C.P. left fielder Brittany Hulen dove to make the catch, the yellow ball peaking out from the top of her glove.
It helped the Dogs get out of the inning on their way to a 5-0 victory over the No. 2 Indians.
“She laid out for that ball,” Crown Point coach Ginger Britton said. “It was the play of the game.”
At that point it was a game-saver. Then the Bulldogs’ offense got hot in the bottom of the inning to score four off Portage starter Kiley Jones. The first RBI of that inning came from second baseman Rachael Suits.
“That was an awesome diving play by Brittany,” said Suits, who went 2-for-3 with a run scored. “We were really aggressive against a really good team and pitcher. We’re still undefeated, but it’s a long season.”
The usually dominant Miranda Elish still got the win for C.P. (11-0, 6-0), but only struck out four in four innings. Instead, she was much more democratic by inducing ground ball outs. In the second, she only threw five pitches to get three outs.
And similar to a few games this year, freshman Alexis Holloway came into the game in the fifth to finish off the opponent. She also had four strikeouts, but three of them came in the final inning.
“Both pitchers were hitting their spots and communicated well with their catcher,” Britton said.
The Bulldogs’ duo has usually averaged 11 to 12 strikeouts per seven innings, but the Indians (10-3, 5-1) aren’t your average opponent.
“We put the bat on the ball,” Portage coach Lisa Hayes said. “We’ve seen some pretty tough pitching in the last week. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of (Holloway), but I knew how good Elish has been. They played better than us today.”
Portage’s lone hit came from Doud to lead off the game.