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Grace advances to second day of league tourney

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – On the opening day of the Crossroads League Tournament, Grace’s softball team split its first two games.

The Lady Lancers (24-27) started the tournament strong, despite coming into the week on a six-game losing streak. Grace, the No. 5 seed in the bracket, took down the fourth-seeded Huntington 5-1 behind a brilliant pitching performance from Hannah England. The next round pitted Grace against NAIA No. 4 Marian with the Lady Lancers falling 4-1.

The Lady Lancers will continue tournament play on Thursday, starting with a winner-goes-home game against Mt. Vernon Nazarene at 10 a.m.

In the opener, Grace sent the Foresters (29-17) into the losers’ bracket with a definitive victory. England tossed a gem, throwing a five-hitter and allowing just one unearned run to score in a complete game.

Hannah Herbster, who was 2-for-4 in the game, started the game’s scoring with an RBI single to plate Emily Bobb in the second inning.

Grace’s lead blossomed out to 3-0 in the fifth inning with a two-out rally. Clarissa Knight singled, and Ashley Kleinbub’s double drove her in. Kati Gregory promptly singled to the outfield to allow  Kleinbub to run home.

Huntington threatened in the sixth, scoring a run off a fielding error by Grace. The Foresters had two baserunners with just one out, but England pitched her way out of a jam with two fly outs.

England’s job was made easier in the top of the seventh when Gregory belted a two-out, two-run double to left field for the final 5-1 scoreline.

Gregory finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs, and Knight and Kleinbub each had two hits and two RBIs.

In the next round, Grace squared off with the league champion Knights (42-4). The Lady Lancers and Knights each had 10 hits, but Grace could only turn those 10 hits into one run. As a team, Grace left nine baserunners stranded.

Marian scored twice in the third and twice more in the sixth to take a 4-0 lead. Grace left at least one baserunner stranded in every inning, including two runners on base in the fifth and seventh innings.

In Grace’s final at-bats in the bottom of the seventh, the first three batters all reached base safely. Morgan Tapscott singled to left field, and Michaela Lee and Herbster each bunted for a single to load the bases.

The Lady Lancers were able to score a run after a ground out from Abby Mozingo. But Grace’s promising inning was snuffed out with two straight outs to end the game.

Herbster was 2-for-4 again as was Mozingo. Lee finished 2-for-3, and Tapscott, Gregory, Bobb and Knight each had a hit.

Herbster pitched the first five innings, giving up four runs, and Erin Lawhon did not give up a run over the final two innings from the mound.