Grace Softball and MVNU split twin bill

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – In Crossroads League play, Grace’s softball team produced a split with Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Friday.

The Lady Lancers (15-16, 8-8 CL) and Cougars battled in a pair of close games with MVNU winning the opener 6-4 and Grace claiming the second game 7-5.

In the opening game, early missteps plagued Grace in a 6-4 defeat.

Mt. Vernon scored three runs, including two unearned runs, in the top of the second inning. Grace committed two untimely errors to fall behind 3-0.

The Lady Lancers seemed poised to answer back with a big inning in the bottom of the second. Hannah Harless completed a successful squeeze bunt to score Ashley Kleinbub and keep the bases loaded with one out. But Grace squandered the bases loaded opportunity with a strikeout and groundout.

In the third, the Cougars tacked on two more unearned runs and three runs overall to jump out to a 6-1 advantage.

Grace showed signs of life in the fifth. Hannah Herbster and Abby Mozingo had back-to-back walks, and Clarissa Knight singled to score one. Chandler Elliott followed Knight up with another RBI single, and Kleinbub belted a deep double to cut MVNU’s margin to 6-4. But with baserunners on second and third, Grace’s final two batters of the inning were retired.

Grace had runners in scoring position in each of the final two innings, but the Lady Lancers were unable to translate runners into runs and lost by two.

Elliott finished the game by pitching 2.2 clean innings of relief. Herbster batted 2-for-3 with three steals and a run, and Kleinbub was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.

In the second game, Grace made its own breaks. The Lady Lancers erupted in the first inning with four runs.

Grace batted around the entire lineup in the opening inning, producing five hits and two hit batsmen. Elliott and Kleinbub had back-to-back RBIs, and Emily Bobb and Michaela Lee also had RBIs in the inning to help Grace grab a 4-1 lead.

The Cougars (12-18, 6-12 CL) plated once, and the score remained 4-1 until the bottom of the fifth.

The Lady Lancers had a chance to end the second game via run-rule in the fifth inning. Grace loaded the bases after singles from Elliott, Kleinbub and Bobb, and Lee was hit by a pitch to bring in a run.

With the bases still loaded, Herbster singled to center to score two more and make the game 7-1. But Grace, needing just two more runs to end the game early, was retired in the inning with a groundout.

MVNU nearly made Grace pay over the final two innings. The Cougars took advantage of shaky defense by the Lady Lancers, ripping off four runs in the sixth to trim Grace’s cushion to two.

In the seventh, MVNU loaded the bases after Grace failed to deal with two ground balls. But Gregory made the winning play, fielding a grounder at third base and diving to the bag to get the force out and secure the victory.

Elliott got the win from the mound, going 6.1 innings with four runs allowed, and Hannah England picked up the save.

Bobb was a perfect 3-for-3 on the day with a stolen base, a run and an RBI, Kleinbub hit 2-for-4 with two runs, and Herbster was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

Elliott had two hits and an RBI, and Lee tallied two RBIs.

The Lady Lancers travel to Huntington on Saturday for a 1 p.m. doubleheader.