CHESTERTON | Miranda Elish is not the average freshman pitcher.
The University of Oregon commit went the distance and struck out nine for Times No. 1 Crown Point in a 5-1 win over No. 3 Chesterton that amounted to the Duneland Athletic Conference championship on Thursday.
"I just had confidence in myself and my team," Elish said.
Chesterton (20-4, 11-3) pushed Elish to the brink in the fourth inning. Megan Matheny lead off with a long home run to left, and the next three hitters loaded the bases.
Elish struck out two and got Bailey Slivka to ground into a fielder's choice to end the threat. She pumped her fist on the way back to the dugout.
"My changeup was on that inning, and I got really lucky that it came and stayed for the rest of the game," Elish said. "I know that I have that defense behind me, so I can throw the pitches that I need to throw to get out of those situations."
The win clinches the conference title for the Bulldogs (18-3, 12-2), who beat the Trojans in both meetings this season. Chesterton was ranked No. 4 in the state coaches poll heading into Thursday's game.
C.P. jumped in front with two runs in the opening frame and another in the second.
"Coming out and making sure that we have presence on the board gives you a little bit of breathing room," Crown Point coach Ginger Britton said. "To keep chipping away and get a few more here and there against a good, that may be all you get."
That's when Chesterton coach LouAnn Hopson decided to replace her ace pitcher Megan Tymarek.
"They were hitting her hard, and she was behind in the count a lot, and that made it even easier to hit her hard, and it was time to come out," Hopson said. "There were some kids that we've been able to count on all year that just didn't get it done today."
Elish helped her own cause with an RBI single in the fourth. The Bulldogs rounded out the scoring when Ally Rock came home on a wild pitch in the seventh inning.
"It's nice (to win the DAC), but I think this team right now is really looking for wins in the postseason," Britton said.