Lady Bulldogs win pair of weekend games at West Lafayette;
Lucka adds further depth as 4th winning pitcher

A USA-365 special report by Mark Smith


Team (Record) / Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
CROWN POINT (8-1) 2 2 2 2 2 2 - 12 13 0
(West Lafayette) HARRISON (4-4) 0 0 2 0 0 0 - 2 5 4
Crown Point senior Madi Young gets ready to pitch against Hamilton Southeastern on April 17. Madi struck out nine in six innings. (All photos by Mark Smith)
CP catcher Gianna Fantin gives HSE a hard look Fantin caught 15 of the 16 innings CP played at Harrison.
The CP bench looks on as CP played its second and third games in 24 hours. The Lady Bulldogs defeated Penn Friday April 16 and HSE and Harrison Saturday.
CP's Grace Lucka gets set to pitch against HSE. Lucka pitched a complete game victory over Penn on Friday and tossed four shutout innings against Hamilton Southeastern.
CP junior Audrey Williams gets ready to bat at Harrison. CP collected just seven singles in 10 innings against Hamilton Southeastern.
CP senior pitcher Grace Lucka (right) and sophomore third baseman Emily Phillips celebrate the Lady Bulldogs' 2-1 victory over HSE.
New CP third baseman Emily Phillips guards the line at Harrison on April 17. Phillips had just two errors in CP's first 10 games.
CP's Anna Holloway leads off third base against Harrison's Emma Henderson (25) on April 17. Crown Point never trailed against the Raiders.
CP right-hander Madi Elish is happy the way things went against Harrison. Elish struck out six in the six-inning victory.
Crown Point's Anna Holloway is not the most intimidating figure in the on deck circle. But the senior shortstop smacked out eight hits in two games at Harrison and four more on April 20 at Valparaiso.
CP's Madi Elish benefitted greatly from run support at Harrison. The Lady Bulldogs scored two runs in every inning of the 12-2 win over the Raiders.
The Lady Bulldogs happily headed into the Northwest Indiana sunset Saturday evening after defeating Penn 5-1, Hamilton Southeastern 2-1 in 10 innings and Harrison 12-2. (All photos by Mark Smith)
Copyright © 2021 and Meyer Multimedia Services, a division of Meyer Broadcasting Corp.  All rights reserved.
Revised: April 28, 2021.

Saturday, April 17, 2021 - Sunny, windy and 60-degrees in WEST LAFAYETTE, IN

WP – (starter) Madi Elish (4-1), CG, 6Ks, 2 walks
LP - (starter) Emma Henderson (2-2) 3K, 1 walk (7 runs), 3 innings

Gianna Fantin (C) 0-for-3, RBI
Natalie Martinez (PH) 0-for-1
Audrey Wroble (CF) 1-for-4, double
Madi Elish (CF) 4-for-4, double, RBI
Anna Holloway (SS) 3-for-4, HR, 3 RBIs
Madi Young (DP) 2-for-3
Gabi Serratos (PH) 0-for-1, run scored
Audrey Williams (1B) 0-for-3
Kaleigh Klingberg (2B) 2-for-3, 2 runs scored
Brinkley Kita (RF) 1-for-3, HR
Emily Phillips (3B) 0-for-2, 2 runs scored

(West Lafayette) Harrison (4-4)
Anna Henderson (SS) 1-for-3, walk
Abbott Badgley (3B) 2-for-2, walk
Sydney Miller (DP) 0-for-3
Emma Henderson (P) 1-for-3, triple, 2 RBIs
Kiersten Delaney (C) 1-for-3
Hanna Lovelace (CF) 0-for-2
Ava Baker (LF) 0-for-2
Whitney Duell (RF) 0-for-2
Chelsea Parker (1B) 0-for-3

Team (Record) / Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
Hamilton Southeastern (4-6) 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 1
CROWN POINT (0-2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 2 9 5

Saturday, April 17, 2021 - Sunny, windy and 55-degrees in WEST LAFAYETTE, IN

WP - Grace Lucka (3-0) 7Ks, 0 walks (4 innings)
CP starter: Madi Young (CP) 9Ks, 1 walk (6 innings)
LP (starter) Paige Laidig (0-1) CG, 10 Ks, 3 walks

Gianna Fantin (C) 0-for-4
Madi Elish (CF) 2-for-4, walk
Anna Holloway (SS) 0-for-4
Madi Young (P) 1-for-4
Audrey Williams (1B) 1-for-4
Kaleigh Klingberg (2B) 1-for-4
Brinkley Kita (RF) 0-for-2
Audrey Wroble (PH) 2-for-2
Emily Phillips (3B) 0-for-3 Sac bunt
Grace Lucka (DP) 1-for-4, RBI

Hamilton Southeastern (4-6)
Reece Massey (SS) 0-for-5
Ava Aguilar (CF) 1-for-3, walk, HBP
Olivia Howard (RF) 1-for-5
Jenna Chase (DP) 2-for-5
Daphne Bush (1B) 1-for-5
Julie Johnson (3B) 0-for-3
Laila Wanza (PH) 0-for-2
Emma Vance (LF) 0-for-4
Alex Kiemeyer (C) 0-for-3
Ella Lewis (PH) 0-for-1
Taylor Larson (2B) 1-for-4, double

WEST LAFAYETTE (04-17-2021) What does a high school team with three returning winning starting pitchers need? How about a fourth winning starting pitcher?

The surprise of the first third of the 2021 Crown Point softball season hasn’t been Madi Elish who was 14-2 with four saves in 2019, the last time CP played. It hasn't been Madi Young, who was 9-1 with a 1.74 ERA two years ago. It also has not been Brinkley Kita, who was 6-2 with an 0.97 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 65 innings in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 season.

The surprise, at least to me, has been senior Grace Lucka (3-0), a right-hander making her varsity debut, who has complete-game wins over Penn and Chesterton plus a four inning win in last weekend’s Crown Point 2-1, 10-inning win over Hamilton Southeastern.

Lucka, who was not listed on the 2019 varsity, has 21 strikeouts in 17 innings and, unless I’m seeing things, she is a fourth upperclassman off this CP squad who will pitcher in college.

“We sneaked her in on you, didn’t we,” smiled CP coach Angie Richwalski. “She has been very good.”

“We’re working on getting her innings. I knew that was going to be the biggest challenge this year. I knew I didn't have enough innings for all these pitchers. They’re all good. They can all handle a game. There’s not enough innings to go around, but that’s a good problem to have. I’m lucky to have pitchers who can play other positions.”

“It makes me work hard,” Grace said about CP’s ‘full house’ pitching staff. “I think it makes me a better pitcher because I can work with all of them and they’re all so good.”

Lucka, who was 1-for-4 with a bizarre game-tying seventh inning RBI against Hamilton Southeastern (3-6) in Saturday’s first game, pitched the final four innings against HSE, striking out seven and walking two. This, less than 24 hours after she pitched a 10-strikeout, 112-pitch complete game victory on the road at Penn (6-4) the night before.

“It was a lot, but it was really fun,” Grace said softly. “Beating Penn felt good. That was one of our best wins so far. I felt fine today (in extra innings). I wasn’t tired.”
Overlooking home runs by Anna Holloway and Brinkley Kita, the secret star of CP’s 12-2 second game win over Harrison on the Raiders’ home field was senior right-hander Madi Elish, who struck out seven in a six inning, 94-pitch 12-2 win just 15 minutes after she had played centerfield for Crown Point against HSE and less than 24 hours after she was 1-for-4 with a home run against Penn.

Richwalski saved Elish for the Harrison game.

“That’s why I had her throw the second game,” the coach explained. “If I had anybody who could come out here and muscle through the last game of the weekend, it's her. I knew it would be her. I knew she could do it.”

“I’m just excited that I can play every game,” said Elish, who improved to 4-1 on the season and was 6-for-8 in the two Saturday games, scoring three times. I love playing games more than practicing and having everyone play and to play so much is really good.”

“They (HSE and Harrison) were both really good teams.”

In the 2-1, 10-inning game against Hamilton Southeastern, HSE pitcher Paige Laidig should have won 1-0 in regulation time. Leading 1-0 with two out in the bottom of the seventh, CP’s Lucka popped the ball up to HSE shortstop Reece Massey who, looking directly into the afternoon sun, never saw it. The ball fell to the ground about 10 feet from Massey, allowing Kaleigh Klingberg to score the game-tying run.

“She (Laidig) did everything she could do, said 33-year veteran HSE coach Dave Cook. “Struck out 10 and walked three. She should have shut them out and I don’t know how many pitchers are going to shut out that team.”

Crown Point won in the bottom of the 10th when Laidig, who threw 142 pitches in the game, walked three batters.

Crown Point was not challenged last week, defeating LaPorte 6-0 and Michigan City 15-1. Grace Lucka (4-0) struck out 13 in six innings against LaPorte, a game in which sophomore third baseman Emily Philips hit two home runs.

CP coasted by Michigan City 15-1, a game where junior Brinkley Kita (1-0) struck out 13 in five innings and hit her second home run of the season.

DOG NOTES: My apologies to CP’s Grace Lucka, who I met for the first time after CP’s win at West Lafayette on April 17.

Just about the worst thing you can do to a teenage athlete (or a teenager of any kind) when you first meet them is to talk about how you met their mother.

Grace’s mom Amy (Granger) Lucka was 13-7 with a 1.40 ERA and a second team all-area selection for Hanover Central (and later was a pitching instructor), when a certain old guy from the newspaper might admit to having seen her play if he would admit to being that old.

But, and here is the lesson for all, high school players probably cannot tell you details of what their parents did almost a decade before they were born. Grace just smiled when I asked about her mom. “Yeah,” she said shyly. “That’s her.”

After nine games, CP senior left-handed hitter Madi Elish (.467) had 14 hits in 30 at-bats with eight extra base hits including two home runs. Right-handed hitting Anna Holloway (.538) had 14 hits on 26 at bats over nine games with eight extra base hits and three homers.

Veteran Hamilton Southeastern coach Dave Cook was not happy with losing 2-1 to CP and 4-2 to Harrison, but he was plain.

“Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us,” he said. “We’ve won a lot of games in the last 15 years. We’re an elite program and we play a top schedule. We didn't play badly today. We’ll get better.”

Coach Richwalski would rather not bat top hitters Elish and Holloway second and third, hoping to put two hitters in front of them instead of just one. CP’s Emma Smiser, who batted leadoff or second in the order in CP’s first four games, has missed some games now with knee problems. CP introduced sophomore left-handed slap hitter Audrey Wroble, an outfielder and pinch runner, who was 3-for-6 in the two games at Harrison. Batting your best hitters second and third guarantees them a first inning at bat but it also virtually guarantees that there will be nobody in scoring position when they hit.

“We want to try to get the most out of them,” said Richwalski of Elish and Holloway, in relation to batting them third and fourth in the batting order. “She (Wroble) is a sophomore. She’s going back and forth between the varsity and JV. She’s very fast. She’ll help us. We can get more people on base in front of them (Elish and Holloway).”

North of the Michigan state line, Edwardsburg, Michigan began their season with a 5-2 win over South Bend St. Joseph’s on April 17. (Stevensville, Michigan) Lakeshore began their 2021 season with a 13-3 win over LaPorte on April 16. Crown Point will ride the big, yellow bus north to Stevensville to face Lakeshore, Edwardsburg and Caledonia, Michigan on May 1.

Crown Point’s 4-2 loss at Lake Central on April 13 dropped the Bulldogs (8-1) from first to third in the state’s latest Class 4A rankings. Lake Central (11-0) is now second.

The new Class 4A number one team is the Roncalli Rebels (11-0), led by sophomore pitcher Keagen Rothrock. Rated as the nation’s number one 10th grade player, Rothrock struck out 129 batters in her first 48 innings this season. Against Hamilton Southeastern (18 strikeouts in six innings) and Ritter (15 strikeouts in five innings), Rothrock (5-0) struck out everyone. Every single batter. The Rebel’s right-hander allowed eight base hits and two earned runs in her first 48 innings.

Roncalli, a south suburban Indianapolis private school, is in the southern half of the Class 4A state tournament bracket and could not play CP or LC until the state championship game.

Crown Point (9-1) got four hits from Anna Holloway and three from Madi Young in a 7-4 win over Valparaiso last Tuesday. Gianna Fantin and Audrey Wroble both had two hits for CP, which improved to 4-1 in the Duneland Athletic conference.

2021 CROWN POINT (11-1, 6-1 DAC)
Coach Angie Richwalski (1st year)
29-5 in 2019, 25-6 in 2018, 30-2 in 2017, 28-2 in 2016, 29-3 (2015), 29-1 (2014)
Duneland Athletic Conference games in CAPS
All games begin at 4:30 p.m. CDT unless otherwise indicated

April 3 (W) 6-0 at Andrean
April 6 (W) 13-0 (5 inn.) MICHIGAN CITY
April 7 (W) 5-2 PORTAGE
April 8 (W) 3-2 Munster
April 13 (W) 9-1 at CHESTERTON
April 14 (L) 2-4 at LAKE CENTRAL
April 16 (W) 5-1 at Penn
April 17 (W) 2-1 (10 innings) Hamilton Southeastern
April 17 (W) 12-2 (6 innings) at (West Lafayette) Harrison
April 21 (W) 7-4 at VALPARAISO
April 22 (W) 6-0 LaPORTE
April 23 (W) 15-1 (5 inn.) MICHIGAN CITY
April 22 (Th) at Hanover Central (cancelled)

April 27 (Tu) at MERRILLVILLE
April 28 (We) at PORTAGE

Lakeshore Invitational at Stevensville, Michigan) times are not certain
May 1 (Sa) Edwardsburg (6-2) – 8:30 a.m. (CP time)
May 1 (Sa) Lakeshore (8-0), Michigan – 10 a.m. (CP time)
May 1 (Sa) Chelsea (15-1), Michigan – 12:30 p.m. (CP time)

May 4 (Tu) at CHESTERTON
May 5 (We) LAKE CENTRAL (14-0)
May 8 (Sa) Boone Grove – 9 a.m.
May 8 (Sa) New Prairie - 12 noon
May 10 (Tu) at Kankakee Valley
May 11 (Tu) at MICHIGAN CITY
May 12 (We) at LaPORTE
May 15 (Sa) Carmel (2 games) 10 a.m.
May 19 (We) Lowell