WEST LAFAYETTE | Even in the top of the seventh inning of a game in which Crown Point had not scored a run against Huntington North, hope was not lost.
There were two runners on base – the possible tying runs – with two outs and the Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year Miranda Elish was at the plate.
But as senior catcher Ally Rock later said about her team on Saturday, “It just wasn’t our day.”
Elish struck out after fouling off a bunt attempt with two strikes and Huntington North held on for a 2-0 victory.
Bishop Noll lost in the Class 2A semistate semifinals, and Hanover Central lost in the 3A semis. This is the first time since the IHSAA class system was implemented in 1997 that Northwest Indiana has failed to advance a softball team to the state finals.
It was a imperfect ending to a season that was perfect with 29 straight wins ending at Harrison High School.
“(Huntington) is not an easy team to beat, said Rock, who ended her Crown Point career with a double and a walk in three at-bats.
The Vikings (24-5) scored both their runs without the benefit of a hit in separate innings. In fact, Huntington only had two hits.
“They had one solid hit and we hit balls in the outfield, but couldn’t take advantage,” Crown Point coach Ginger Britton said.
In the second, Huntington’s Alexa Hill reached on a hit-by-pitch to lead off the inning. She moved to second on a wild pitch and stole third with one out. Tori Newsome then hit a grounder to Rachael Honaker at second base. She bobbled it just a little, then was a little off on the throw home.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Vikings again got the leadoff hitter (Kaylynn Rosen) on, this time with a walk. Hill attempted to sacrifice her to second, but Rock threw to second and Rosen was safe. After a sacrifice bunt by Makayla Whaley, Newsome drove in Rosen with a groundout to Bulldogs’ first baseman Rachael Centanni.
“That’s always a tough one,” Britton said about Centanni’s decision to take the unassisted out at first instead of throwing home. “The runner was going on contact. But we didn’t score any runs. They could have scored a three or four … or a hundred. It didn’t matter because we had runners on and couldn’t get them in.”
The Bulldogs’ best chances were in the last two innings when an error by shortstop Natasha Grover in each inning gave C.P. two runners on with two outs. Both chances ended with strikeouts.
Huntington’s Erin Rethlake struck out 11 and walked one in the complete-game win, and when the Bulldogs threatened, she seemed to turn up the determination.
“She had a nice curveball and got us chasing balls out of the zone,” Britton said. “Both pitchers threw the ball well.”
Elish struck out nine and walked one, but was battling most of the game to get out of trouble. Huntington got the leadoff hitter on base in each of the first four innings.
The Bulldogs won conference and sectional titles, their second regional crown – first since 1985 – and had the program’s longest winning streak.
“I feel so blessed to have been part of this team,” said a tearful Rock, who graduates along with twin sister Amanda. “I’m so proud of every single girl and our coaches.”