Dunning's 13 Ks leads Illinois No. 1 Marist
to 7-2 win over Lady Bulldogs

A USA-365 special report by Mark Smith


Team (Record) / Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Marist (22-0) 0 4 0 1 0 0 2 7 10 3
CROWN POINT (21-3) 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 2 1
Senior Madi Young gets ready to bat in the matchup with Marist last Thursday. The RedHawks came to Crown Point with a 21-game winning streak. 
(All photos by Mark Smith)
CP freshman Audrey Wroble looks to make contact against Marist pitcher Abby Dunning, who had allowed just one run all season.
Marist shortstop Easton Lotus watches teammate Abby Dunning get ready to throw against CP. Dunning had allowed just one run and eight base hits all season in 76 innings.
Crown Point's Brinkley Kita fouled off six pitches in a 10-pitch at bat against Marist pitcher Abby Dunning in the second inning. Kita struck out, but she later singled in the fourth.
Crown Point's infield, including third baseman Emily Phillips and shortstop Anna Holloway, was kept busy by Marist. The RedHawks smacked 13 ground ball outs and 10 base hits against CP pitching.
CP senior Madi Elish gets ready to take on the Marist batting order. Elish pitched five innings in relief, allowing a two-run homer by Marist catcher Emily Bojan.
The CP 'bench crew' cheers on their teammates in the battle against undefeated Marist.
CP's Kaleigh Klingberg turns on one against Marist last Thursday (May 13). Klingberg had one of the Bulldogs' four base hits.
That's Anna Holloway on the left and Kaleigh Klingberg on the right as pitcher Madi Elish gathers the infield late in last week's game against Marist.
Crown Point coach Angie Richwalski gets some advice from the dugout during Thursday's game against Marist. The RedHawks are ranked No. 1 in Illinois.
Marist pitcher Abby Dunning struck out 13 and walked one against Crown Point, throwing 120 pitches and allowing just two unearned runs.
Crown Point's Morgan Scott doesn't look happy during CP's 7-2 loss to Marist, but the Lady Bulldogs are looking forward to sectional play, which begins next week. 
(All photos by Mark Smith)
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Revised: May 20, 2021.

Thursday, May 13, 2021 - Sunny and 65-degrees in CROWN POINT, IN

Marist (22-0)
Kali Case (CF) 1-for-4, stolen base
Easton Lotus (SS) 3-for-4, 2 RBI, 2 stolen bases
Emily Bojan (C) 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, walk, stolen base
Izzy Cunnea (LF) 1-for-4
Sierra Sass (RF) 1-for-4, stolen base
Eileen Donahue (1B) 1-for-2, HBP
Gia Richey (DP) 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBIs
Maia Pietrazk (2B) 0-for-2, walk
Kait Wright (3B) 1-for-3,stolen base

Audrey Wroble (LF) 0-for-4
Madi Elish (CF-P) 0-for-4
Anna Holloway (SS) 1-for-3
Madi Young (DP) 0-for-3
Gianna Fantin (C) 1-for-3, double
Brinkley Kita (RF) 1-for-3
Kaleigh Klingberg (1B) 1-for-3
Morgan Scott (2B) 0-for-2, walk
Emily Phillips (3B) 0-for-2, HBP

WP (starter) Abby Dunning (15-0) CG, 13 Ks, 1 walk (120 pitches)
LP (starter) Grace Lucka (5-1) 4 earned runs, 2 innings

CROWN POINT, IN (05-13-2021) Really good high school softball teams often search far and wide for someone who can defeat them.

CP has bested Penn, Harrison and Boone Grove. The Lady Bulldogs are the only teams to beat Lake Central (21-1) and (Stevensville, Michigan) Lakeshore (27-1).

But a half dozen of the teams on Crown Point’s schedule probably couldn't beat them if the Lady Bulldogs were all blindfolded. We don't have to name names, but let's just say that CP didn't exclusively face serious challenges on the 2021 schedule.

And then Marist came to town.

Crown Point got a look at the next level of high school softball in the undefeated, nationally-rated (11th in the USA last week) RedHawks who handed the Bulldogs a decisive 7-2 loss last Thursday out behind Crown Point high school.

Marist, a private school from Chicago’s southwest side, smacked out 10 hits, drilled two home runs and stole seven bases. The undefeated Illinois superpower featured unbeaten senior right-hander Abby Dunning (16-0), who struck out 13 CP hitters.

“We could win state,” said CP coach Angie Richwalski, “and they (Marist) might still be the best team we see all year. I knew they come ready to play every night so I’m not surprised.”

Richwalski was also not surprised that her pitchers didn’t pile up the strikeouts against the RedHawks, who are the leaders in Chicago’s East Suburban Catholic Conference.

“I was trying to find something (on video) on these girls last night,” Angie continued. “Every video I could find. And every girl had a beautiful swing. I don’t see any holes. Next girl. Beautiful swing. I don’t see any holes. We knew it would be a challenging day on both sides of the ball.”

Marist (22-0), ranked No. 1 in Class 4A in Illinois, has a core group of solid performers who, reportedly, play summer ball together. They were very, very impressive. Their hitters 1-through-9 all put the ball in play consistently. CP pitchers Grace Lucka and Madi Elish both average more than a strikeout an inning but there was no striking out the RedHawks (22-0), who made solid contact more than any other team Crown Point has seen. Marist girls had just two strikeouts in 41 at bats against Crown Point.

CP scored on a Marist error and a Madi Young RBI in the first inning, but Marist scored four times off Lucka (5-1) in the second inning. Junior designated batter Gia Richey launched a two-run homer to right field and the RedHawks' slick fielding shortstop Easton Lotus smacked a two-run single to right field.

Crown Points (21-3) scored on a walk and two errors in the fifth inning to make the score 5-2, but Marist got a two-run homer from powerful junior catcher Emily Bojan off Madi Elish in the seventh inning to complete the scoring.

“We have a lot of strong hitters 1-thru-9,” said Marist coach Colleen Phelan. “We’ve got power mixed in with the slappers. It’s a great mix. I was thinking today when I was over (coaching) at third base. It doesn’t matter who’s up. We have an opportunity to score every inning. We have elite travel ball players. And so do they. That’s why we scheduled this game. We know its going to be a good ball game and we know we’ll get each other ready for the post-season. We view it as a prep game, hopefully, for our future run for a state title and hopefully, for their future run for a state title.”

Dunning, who has been involved in six no-hitters this year (she has four complete-game no hitters), complimented Crown Point.

“I think Crown Point is one of the best teams we’ve played. Obviously, we’ve had a lot of success, but it's so much more fun to play great competition. They had some great hitters and great pitching. It was a fun game. They’ll go far in the state tournament.”

“Abby has been ’lights out’ all year,” said Phelan. “She has elite movement. She spins it and she still throws in the mid to high 60s (miles an hour. So, she’s tough on everybody. They (CP) put the ball in play some and hit some balls hard. They’re a strong team and we enjoyed playing them.”

Crown Point was realistically in the game until Bojan’s seventh-inning home run. In the fourth with Marist leading 5-1, CP’s Gianna Fantin had the hardest hit ball of the day off Dunning, a line drive extra base hit into right center field.

Gianna was, unfortunately, thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple and next batter Brinkley Kita’s single to left went to waste. CP had runners on base in six of the seven innings but senior Marist shortstop Easton Lotus, who will play next season at the University of Louisville, made a spectacular ‘Willie Mays’ style diving catch running full speed directly away from the infield in left center field after Kita’s single, ending the fourth inning.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a catch like that in high school,” said Richwalski. Dunning ended the fifth, sixth and seventh with strikeouts.

I’d like to say that Marist came to Indiana on a mission to beat Crown Point. But again, the RedHawks do this to everyone. Marist has scored 10 or more runs 14 times. Their closest game was a 2-1 win over Joliet Catholic, a team they later beat 11-1. The 5-run loss was CP’s largest losing number of the season, but Marist does that to a lot of teams.

“Well,” said CP third baseman Emily Phillips, “it's not the outcome we wanted. No one wants to lose. They showed out. They were good. Do I think we could have done better? It would have shown on the scoreboard. But that’s a pretty good team.”

“We just didn't go out ready. Not swinging at the first pitch strikes. I think we can fix that.”

Asked to compare Dunning with Lake Central’s top pitcher Peyton Pepkowksi (14-0), someone CP could face in the June 1 regional championship, Emily didn't hesitate.

“They are two very similar pitchers,” Emily said. “Pepkowksi definitely threw a lot more rise (rising fastballs) than she (Dunning) did. I think this will definitely benefit us for post-season. Facing this will help us.”

Coach Richwalski thought the game, played in 55 degree sunshine, could have been closer.

“We’re still having some first year team changes,” she said. “We’ve had some execution failures. For our seniors, this is their first varsity year together (no one played in 2020). Not every senior knows what everyone else is going to do. We’re still struggling with a little bit of that.”

DOG NOTES: I thought Marist pitcher Abby Dunning had struck out 11 CP batters Thursday. But as I walked away from coach Colleen Phelan after speaking with her, she called after me, “Abby says she struck out 13.”

I wanted to speak to pitcher Abby Dunning anyway so I said, “Are you sure, girl?”

Dunning walked up to me and we both checked my score sheet. I felt shame. She was absolutely right. 13 strikeouts.

“I keep track of my strikeouts in my head during the game,” Abby said. “I know exactly how many I have.”

Marist is an 1,800 teen private school at 4200 115th Street in Chicago. The school’s web site lists tuition at $13,150 per year, minus whatever ‘financial assistance’ a student might be able to qualify for.

Marist was a 2012 and 2015 Illinois state softball champion. The RedHawks finished fourth in 2017 and 2019, the last season that was played.

Of the 10 players who started against Crown Point. Six of them were sophomores or juniors. Star pitcher Abby Dunning (16-0) is a senior headed to Boston College this fall. Marist hoped they didn’t lose junior catcher Emily Bojan who was hit by a foul tip late in the CP game.

“She’s the heart and spirit of our team,” said coach Phelan. The first thought was that her hand was bruised, but not broken.

Crown Point bounced back to beat Carmel 4-0 and 11-1 Saturday, May 15. Madi Elish (10-1) pitched a three-hit shutout in game one, backed up by Emily Phillips’ third home run of the season. Elish placed center field and was 3-for-4 in game two including her sixth home run. Anna Holloway was 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Gabi Serratos and Emily Wroble both had two hits in support of right-hander Grace Lucka (5-1).

Crown Point’s ‘Senior Night’ is Tuesday, May 18 against Valparaiso.

2021 CROWN POINT (23-3, 12-1 DAC)
Coach Angie Richwalski (1st year)
29-5 in 2019, 25-6 in 2018, 30-2 in 2017, 28-2 in 2016, 29-3 in 2015, 29-1 in 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 (21-1)
April 16 (W) 5-1 at Penn
April 17 (W) 2-1 (10 inn.) Hamilton Southeastern (9-12)
April 17 (W) 12-2 (6 inn.) at (West Lafayette) Harrison (16-7)
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 (W) 21-0 (5 inn.) at MERRILLVILLE
April 28 (W) 13-0 (5 inn.) at PORTAGE

Lakeshore Invitational at Stevensville, (Michigan)
May 1 (W) 3-1 (Stevensville, Michigan) Lakeshore (27-1)
May 1 (W) 15-1 (5 inn.) Edwardsburg, Mich. (16-8)
May 1 (L) 3-5 Chelsea, Mich. (23-3)

May 4 (W) 5-0 at CHESTERTON
May 5 (W) 5-0 LAKE CENTRAL (22-1)
May 8 (W) 6-2 Boone Grove (16-8-1)
May 8 (W) 16-9 (5 inn.) New Prairie

May 10 (W) 3-0 at Kankakee Valley (12-9)
May 12 (W) 11-7 at LaPORTE
May 13 (L) 2-7 (Chicago) Marist (23-0)
May 15 (W) 4-0 Carmel (12-11)
May 15 (W) 11-1 (5-innings) Carmel (12-11)

May 18 (Tue.) VALPARAISO
May 19 (Wed.) Lowell

CROWN POINT (4A) Sectional
at Crown Point High School

May 24 (Mon.) Valparaiso vs. Chesterton – 5 p.m.
May 25 (Tue.) Hobart vs. Portage – 5 p.m.
May 25 (Tue.) Lowell vs. Michigan City – 7 p.m.
May 26 (Wed.) CROWN POINT vs. Valpo or Chesterton – 5 p.m.
May 26 (Wed.) Hobart or Portage vs. MC or Lowell – 7 p.m.
May 28 (Fri.) Sectional 2 championship game – 6 p.m.

(the Sectional 2 winner here will on the road the night of June 1 for the regional championship game at Sectional 1 champ (probably Lake Central).