CROWN POINT | Most of the time you can't hit what you can't see. Or what you haven't seen much of.
That's what the Portage Indians were facing Friday night at the Class 4A Crown Point sectional, as they played the Duneland Athletic Conference champion Bulldogs on their home field in the semifinal.
On top of that, they faced undefeated fire-balling freshman pitcher Miranda Elish.
“I knew after my first at-bat,” Portage sophomore Kaitlin Doud said. “(Elish) struck me out. I don't do that. I wanted revenge.”
In a scoreless game with two outs in the third, Elish (17-1) hit Haley Hodges. Doud then doubled home the first run of the game. Doud later scored on an error by Crown Point second basemen Rachael Honaker.
That jump-start allowed Portage to get the win 3-1 and advance to today's championship game against Hobart (17-10). The Brickies took advantage of seven Valparaiso errors to win 6-2 in Friday's nightcap.
Portage's Alexis Johnson smashed a home run over the right-field fence to put a little icing on the cake in the sixth.
“I was mad because I wasn't getting on base,” Johnson said. “I wanted to make good contact. The adrenaline was rushing. I wanted to cry.”
Portage coach Lisa Hayes had a sign she was passing around after the win. It said B-E-L-I-E-V-E. The “V,” though, was loose.
The sign is given to the most outstanding player or players after an Indians' win.
“The 'V' stands for victory,” Hayes said. “This is huge. (Crown Point) is an excellent team. They won our conference, and I think we have the best conference in the state.”
Hayes said the Indians (20-6) sped up their pitching machine to get ready for Elish, who pitched only three innings against Portage in the two regular-season games.
“I don't care how ugly it is; a win is a win in the postseason,” Hayes said.
Crown Point (25-5) scored its lone run in the third on a double by Courtney Holm and a RBI triple by Mandey Shrader. But the Bulldogs could not get enough runners on base or the big hits needed when runners were on base.
“Every team but one ends their season with a loss,” C.P. coach Ginger Britton said. “This team was heavy with seniors. They had a great season. They should be very proud of the season they had.”
The Vikings (14-12) struggled fielding the ball and that set up a hot-hitting Brickies' lineup, which has now won 10 consecutive games.
Brittany Probasco had two doubles, scored one run and had one RBI. And Dana Claussen was masterful in the circle, changing speeds and hitting her spots keeping the Vikings off-balanced.
Hobart coach Katrina Lucas said her team's confidence is sky-high right now. She said this Brickies team is much different than the team that lost 4-0 to Portage earlier in the season.
“They were so fired up after school,” she said. “They were ready to go. We're very different now. Before we couldn't put our offense and defense together. Now we are.”