Softball: Crown Point pounces on inexperienced Merrillville squad
By Dennis Churilla Post-Tribune correspondent April 23, 2013 12:14PM
Crown Point's Mandy Shrader (left) is tagged out at home by Merrillville's catcher Ireon Smith in the fourth inning during their game held at Crown Point High School on Monday April 22, 2013. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 24, 2013 2:12AM
MERRILLVILLE — Win or lose, both Crown Point coach Ginger Britton and Merrillville coach Kaitlyn O’Brien were just happy to get on the field. It had been almost two weeks of rainouts for both teams before the Bulldogs beat the Pirates 16-0 on Monday.
“We’ve been doing a lot of batting cage work,” Britton said. “It’s really nice to get outside today. Unfortunately, the rest of the week isn’t looking too promising.”
The litany of canceled games means there will be a lot of make-up dates squeezed in between now and the start of sectionals on May 20. It begs the question if four weeks is enough time to get ready for the tournament.
“It will have to be,” Britton said. “We have a lot of pitching, so we’ll have enough games to get that sorted out. The down side is that you don’t have a lot of practice time in between games to straighten things out.”
O’Brien thinks her team could use less practice and more games. With three freshmen in the starting lineup, her team needs real-game experience.
“We practice game situations all the time and we do real well at it,” O’Brien said. “But we get nervous when it actually happens in a game. We have a lot of freshmen with a lot of potential that don’t know how good they can be yet.”
This campaign is O’Brien’s rookie season as head coach, too, though she spent time with the Pirates as the JV coach last season. It’s her role off the field that has taken some getting used to.
“I knew this was a great group of girls coming in, but there’s a lot more planning and administration as the head coach and I’m learning, too” she said. “I want them to have fun, because if you’re not enjoying your sport, it can be miserable.”
Crown Point (4-2, 3-1) broke the game open with an eight-run outburst in the bottom of the second inning. The Bulldogs had just three hits in the inning, but benefitted from five walks issued by the Pirates. The big blow was a two-out, bases-loaded triple by Amanda Rock that turned into a home run when umpires determined the ball hit the foul pole above the fence line. The junior third baseman had two hits, scored two runs and had four RBI before being lifted after two at-bats.
Rachael Centanni (2-1) took care of the rest for Crown Point. The junior pitcher allowed only one hit and struck out six in Monday’s five-inning shutout. Only two Pirate hitters reached base, the other coming on a groundball error. Arie Conn took the loss for Merrillville (1-8, 0-4).