Pete Iussig Is The Post Tribune 2017 Softball Coach Of The Year

A Crown Point player or two had a passing familiarity with Pete Iussig and his resume. None knew him personally.

But they bonded quickly.

Iussig, a 2011 Indiana Softball Hall of Fame inductee who spent 25 seasons at Lowell, was hired by Crown Point on Sept. 30. Assistant coaches ran an open gym shortly thereafter and the Bulldogs had their first team meeting Oct. 5.

Iussig, the Post-Tribune 2017 Softball Coach of the Year, was so struck by the players' attentiveness in that meeting it inspired him to write a poem for their second meeting about their potential path to a state championship.

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The words caught the ear of senior pitcher and Notre Dame recruit Alexis Holloway.

"It was about his hopes and his mindset for the year," Holloway said. "That really set the tone. It made us laugh — we always had a good time.

"He was new to all of us, and it's been a fantastic relationship from the get-go. He came in with open arms."

With that environment and a considerably talented group headed by Holloway, Iussig guided the Bulldogs to the Class 4A state title with a 2-1 win over Avon at Ben Davis. It was the program's first championship, with Crown Point having reached the state quarterfinals in 1985.

>
>Alexis Holloway is the Post-Tribune 2017 Softball Player of the Year
> Michael Osipoff

With the stage to herself, Alexis Holloway's star shined even brighter.

Third straight first team all-state selection. Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year. USA Today All-American. A schedule conflict, necessitating a gut-wrenching decision, likely cost the Notre Dame recruit the title of Miss Softball.

...

With the stage to herself, Alexis Holloway's star shined even brighter.

Third straight first team all-state selection. Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year. USA Today All-American. A schedule conflict, necessitating a gut-wrenching decision, likely cost the Notre Dame recruit the title of Miss Softball.

... (Michael Osipoff)

The last time a Region team won the state title was 2013, when Portage's route included a win over Crown Point in a sectional semifinal. The Bulldogs made a semistate semifinal in 2014, regionals in 2015 and were upset in a sectional final last season.

Iussig, who led Lowell to the state semifinals in 2007 and 2009, understood the significance of winning state.

"They've come close the last few years," Iussig said. "It stung last year.

"The girls on the team this year were pretty focused on playing their last game at 1200 North Girls School Road (at Ben Davis). You can hope, but it happened."

Crown Point, which climbed to No. 7 in USA Today's national rankings, had a five-player senior class that included shortstop and Northwestern recruit MacKenzie Dunlap. Iussig also incorporated underclassmen, with four sophomores and a freshman starting in the title game.

Iussig knew almost immediately he made the right decision to come out of coaching retirement.

>Announcing the Post-Tribune 2017 Softball All-Area Team
> Michael Osipoff

First Team

McKenzie Adams, Kankakee Valley, senior, outfielder: Third team all-state pick hit .463 with 28 runs and 21 stolen bases. Evansville recruit went 4-for-4 in the Class 3A state title game despite playing on a torn ACL in her right knee.

Brittany Anderson, Bishop Noll, senior, second base:...

First Team

McKenzie Adams, Kankakee Valley, senior, outfielder: Third team all-state pick hit .463 with 28 runs and 21 stolen bases. Evansville recruit went 4-for-4 in the Class 3A state title game despite playing on a torn ACL in her right knee.

Brittany Anderson, Bishop Noll, senior, second base:...

(Michael Osipoff)

"It was even better than we thought," Iussig said. "The girls are absolutely hard workers and great kids. They were open to what we were trying to do. It really was a wonderful season, really special."

In 2015, Iussig stepped down for a second time at Lowell, where he started the program, after also having done so after the 2010 season. Ginger Britton succeeded him before resigning in 2016, prompting his return.

Britton, who as a senior in 2000 helped Iussig win one of his four sectional titles at Lowell, moved with her family to Indianapolis after four-plus seasons as Crown Point's coach.

Iussig was quick to credit his longtime assistant Jim Chancellor and well-regarded Gabby Raspopovich as well as the four coaches who worked with the JV and freshman teams.

"I couldn't think of two better people to do this with," Iussig said "The three of us meshed. Coach Chancellor and I have been together for years, and Gabby is a first-year teacher and coach here and she's just outstanding. This wouldn't have happened without those two."

Britton also received a championship medal.

"She and her parents went to all the postseason games and she put in a lot of time with these girls," Iussig said. "We just felt she deserved recognition and that was a good way to do it."

Senior catcher Lexi Madrigal noticed early that type of inclusiveness.

"I was a little nervous at first because we didn't know him," Madrigal said. "But he jelled really well with us."

mosipoff@post-trib.com

Twitter @MichaelOsipoff

Source : http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/sports/ct-ptb-softball-crown-point-pete-iussig-st-0618-20170617-story.html

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