CROWN POINT | She knows about the hype, the pressure, the expectations and the disappointment.
The hype of being a Division 1 prospect as a high school freshman, the pressure that goes along with that, the expectations that grew over the course of a successful regular season and the disappointment of losing in the sectional.
Crown Point’s Miranda Elish began her prep career last season with the rare distinction of already verbally committing to a college. And the Oregon-bound pitcher didn’t disappoint, earning first-team all-area honors after posting a 17-1 record and 1.03 earned run average, while producing a .444 batting average.
Her lone loss came in the sectional semifinal to eventual state champion Portage.
So who better than to mentor another freshman phenom with high expectations attached to her own Division 1 verbal commitment?
Crown Point now has a pair of pitchers who have performed so well in travel ball that big-time colleges couldn’t wait to get them in the fold.
This year’s standout newcomer is Alexis Holloway, and she’s verbally committed to a certain university in South Bend.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Notre Dame,” she said.
But the relationship between the two didn’t start when school began back in August. Both have been members of the CP Bulldogs’ travel program at different levels. They were teammates on the 10U and 14U squads, before separating in recent years as Holloway plays in 16U and Elish pitches in 18U.
Now as high school teammates, they are back to bringing out the best in each other.
“We both push the other to do better,” Holloway said.
It’s something Elish did by herself last season to earn the No. 1 starter job for the Bulldogs.
“I pushed myself last year to beat out (senior pitcher) Siena (Gyure) for the starting spot,” Elish said.
Now with her travel ball friend as the competitor, she has a different mentality.
“I think we’re in agreement – there is no 1 and 2, just two number ones,” Elish said, glancing at Holloway for the freshman’s nod of approval.
“We both have our own strengths, and we both are No. 1 pitchers,” Holloway added.
It’s a good problem for C.P. coach Ginger Britton to have coming into a season with even higher expectations.
“There’s enough innings to go around,” Britton said. “They run a lot of drills together and get along well. They’re coming into this as friends, so that helps a lot.”
Last year during the regular season, Elish led the Bulldogs to their second straight Twin Lakes Invitational title. But for the second straight year winning the prestigious tourney didn’t lead to any postseason trophies.
Maybe having an equal as a fellow No. 1 will be the difference.
“With our schedule and seeing the same teams in the sectional, it’s tough to throw the same pitcher three times against the same team,” Britton said. “Most of our sectional (and conference) foes have two different girls starting games.”
The only concern with Holloway, like any freshman in almost every sport, is the transition to high school competition. That’s where Elish’s experience from last year comes into play.
“Some of the pitchers that were dominant as 12U or 14U, they need to hit their spots better against 16- and 17-year-olds,” Britton said. “Miranda really improved on that as last season progressed, and Alexis will learn that, too. She’ll learn that the fastball isn’t the go-to pitch as much at this level.”
Then again, Elish won’t overcomplicate things for her freshman counterpart.
“I’ve talked to (Holloway) about it, and it’s still the same game as in travel ball,” she said. “Still nine batters to pitch to and seven innings.”
Holloway admitted to being a little nervous as her first high school game approached, but only because “it’s a different routine with new coaches.”
But her friend Elish could be considered one of those coaches on the field who can help keep things light and entertaining, like when the duo was asked what their favorite pitches were.
“Strike three,” Elish said with a straight face, while Holloway responded with, “That’s classified information.”
They sure sound like two number ones.