CROWN POINT | Often a big defensive stop starts a momentum wave that leads to a big offensive inning.
It’s less common for that inning to be played in a downpour.
Before the rain doused the Crown Point softball field, Amanda Rock made a game-changing play on defense, and the Times No. 1 Bulldogs scored four runs in the rain over the next three innings to defeat visiting Times No. 6 Lake Central on Monday in a Duneland Athletic Conference game.
“It was an incredible play, and to me it was the difference in the game,” Lake Central coach Jeff Sherman said.
The Bulldogs (9-0, 4-0) remained unbeaten, but might have been looking at a parallel universe of circumstances if not for Rock’s web gem. With one out in the top of the fourth and Lake Central set up well after back-to-back one-out singles, Rock snared a hard-hit ground ball in a dive, then flipped to sprinting shortstop Abby Skura to eliminate lead runner Lizzie Seymour and stem the threat, which ended with one of pitcher Miranda Elish’s 12 strikeouts.
“I have to give it to my teammate, Abby Skura,” Rock said. “If she wasn’t there we would have had bases loaded.”
The other Rock sister, Ally, then singled home Crown Point’s first run with its first hit and scored run No. 2 on a passed ball.
“Rain or not, I have all the confidence in the world in my team,” Amanda Rock said. “Rain or shine, if we were down or if we were up, we’d always fight.”
By that point the rain shifted the advantage to the hitters and base runners. The ball was slick and got away from the battery once or twice per batter.
“Both sides, you lose some pitches when you don’t have a lot of grip, so you’re really narrowing down what pitchers are able to do, and placement becomes so much more important,” Crown Point coach Ginger Britton said.
Lake Central batted in rain in the top of the fifth before a delay of about 15 minutes. With no lightning in sight and the storm reduced to a steady drizzle, the teams finished the game.
Crown Point scored twice more in the bottom of the fifth as Bailey Mores singled with two strikes and two outs to plate Elish and Rachael Suits.
“(Mores) did a nice job fouling off a few to the right side before she got one she could put up the line,” Britton said.
Elish got sharper in the rain to improve to 8-0 individually. The Oregon recruit allowed three hits and one walk while striking out 12.
Annabel Karberg matched Elish with 12 punchouts for Lake Central. However, the rainy fourth against the heart of Crown Point’s offense cost her victory in an otherwise rather dominant game.
“The one person I didn’t want up in that situation was Ally Rock,” Sherman said. “That kid’s a super stud, and she’s hurt us more than once over the last couple of years. To put a runner in scoring position with her at the plate in a scoreless game, that’s a tough situation to be in.”