CHICAGO — The Crown Point softball team opened its season with a pair of victories over Portage and Times No. 2 Chesterton but dropped its next two contests against No. 3 Lake Central and No. 5 Munster.
The Bulldogs were outscored by seven runs during their two-game losing streak, and Monday they looked to regain their footing against Chicago's Marist. The RedHawks entered the match-up on an eight-game winning streak and were undefeated at home. They were also the No. 2 ranked team in Illinois, according to MaxPreps.
Crown Point got on the board first; however, the Bulldogs weren't able to build on to it and lost 6-2.
"That's why we play them," Bulldogs coach Pete Iussig said of Marist. "They're well coached, and they're a good team."
Sophomore shortstop Anna Holloway recorded her first home run of the season in the top of the fourth inning to give Crown Point (2-3) a bit of momentum.
Holloway hit a fly ball to deep right field that was initially caught by junior Brianna Brown. But as the right fielder tried to squeeze it, she bumped into the outfield fence and dropped the ball on the other side.
It took a moment for the umpires to rule Holloway's hit as a home run. When they did, she and the rest of her team were elated in response to her solo shot.
"It was a great catch," Holloway said. "I don't know if she caught it long enough for it to be a catch, but all I know is that was a heck of a play. It just worked out in my favor I guess."
Holloway said that was the first homer of her career that didn't make it out of the park on its own. She added that she wasn't initially sure if it would be ruled a home run but simply kept running when someone yelled, "She dropped it!"
The RedHawks responded with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take the lead and broke the game open with four more runs in the bottom of the fifth. After sophomore shortstop Easton Lotus scored a run, senior third baseman Kelly Walinski provided the play of the game with a three-run homer to center field that essentially put the game out of reach.
"I have a really resilient group," Marist coach Colleen Biebel said. "With a one-run deficient, we kind of view it as, 'You gotta score to win anyway.' So it never really shakes us up. We just put the ball in play well, and we have good hitters. But we tip our hats to their pitching."
Biebel said that sophomore Madi Elish was the toughest pitcher the RedHawks have faced all year. She forced seven ground outs and one strikeout through three innings but struggled in the fourth and fifth.
Marist senior Angela Zedak dominated in the circle with nine strikeouts in her complete game victory, and Iussig believes having his players compete against her and other tough opponents can only help the team later in the season.
"We're going into all of these early games just trying to get better for the next game," Iussig said. "And not only the physically stuff but the mentally stuff. 'What were you thinking about up there (at the plate)? Have you adjusted to the umpire?' That kind of thing."