Grace ends doubleheader with win

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s softball team picked up a crucial split of Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Friday at Miller Athletic Complex.

The Lady Lancers (14-32, 8-24 Crossroads League) lost the opener 7-3 but found revenge with a 6-3 win in the second game.

Grace now sits one game behind Goshen for the last spot in the CL tournament. Grace hosts Goshen for a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday, a series which could swing momentum in either team’s favor.

Prior to Friday’s doubleheader, Grace was pleased to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for a future softball stadium, which will be named Coach Phil Dick Field.

In the opener, Grace’s early lead vanished quickly as the Cougars (23-17-1, 15-13 CL) excelled on offense. MVNU recorded a 17-7 advantage in hits en route to a 7-3 win.

Grace struck first with a pair of runs in the first inning. Sam Heim led off the inning with a single and eventually came home on a ground ball by Chandler Elliott. Elliott later scored on a sacrifice fly by Britney Young.

But the Cougars countered with six runs over the next two stanzas, and Grace never recovered.

Grace’s only other run came in the fourth after Paige Hlutke’s RBI single scored Ashley Kleinbub.

Elliott pitched well in relief for Grace, giving up just one run over the final 4.1 innings. Heim led Grace’s offense, going 3-for-4 with a run and a stolen base.

In the second game, Elliott continued her pitching wizardry from the mound to lead Grace to victory. The senior threw a complete game, giving up three runs in a 6-3 victory.

The Lady Lancers scored all six of their runs in a three-inning span. Young and Olivia Scarbrough had RBI hits in the second inning, and Hannah Herbster’s double brought in Heim in the third.

In the fourth, Grace scored three runs on three hits. Young and Scarbrough had back-to-back singles, and Kleinbub’s double scored them both. Later, Heim laid down a squeeze bunt to plate Kleinbub.

MVNU threatened to rally in the top of the sixth, scoring a run and putting baserunners on second and third. Elliott escaped the inning with a ground out, however.

Grace could have extended its lead in the bottom of the sixth with a bases-loaded situation, but the Cougars kept the score 6-3 with another ground out.

Elliott had to deal with two baserunners in MVNU’s final at-bats, but she eliminated the threat with a ground out.

Heim again had the hot bat for Grace, batting 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI, and Scarbrough hit 2-for-2 with a run and an RBI. Kleinbub drove in two runs and scored herself, and Young plated twice with an RBI.

Saturday’s doubleheader with Goshen is Grace’s home finale and also the final set of games at the existing softball field. Construction for the new Coach Phil Dick Field will begin this summer.