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Grace splits thrilling series with SAU

SPRING ARBOR, Mich. – Grace’s softball team and Spring Arbor split a pair of one-run games on Tuesday.

In the opener, the Cougars (11-9, 4-4 Crossroads League) came from behind to win 6-5 in extra innings. But the Lady Lancers (6-15, 2-7 CL) found revenge with a tightly contested 7-6 victory to end the day.

The teams could barely find separation in the opening game; neither side led by more than one run for the entirety of the contest.

Grace took a 2-1 lead in the second inning thanks to a two-out, two-run single by Emily Bobb. SAU countered with two runs in the bottom of the second for a 3-2 lead.

The Lady Lancers produced another two-out rally in the fourth. Sam Heim’s two-out double brought in Andrea Castillo and Bobb.

But Grace’s lead was short-lived as the Cougars tied the score 4-4 in the bottom of the fourth.

Neither team was able to cross home plate for the next three frames, sending the game to extra innings.

In the top of the eighth, Castillo hit a two-out double to give Grace a shot. Head coach Sarah Harman called on Hannah Harless to pinch hit, and she delivered. Harless’s single allowed Castillo to slide home safely from second base for a 5-4 lead.

The Cougars responded aptly in the bottom of the eighth; SAU took advantage from a pair of Grace miscues to win a walkoff 6-5.

Heim hit 3-for-4 from the leadoff position with two doubles and two RBIs, Castillo was 2-for-4 with two runs, and Bobb was 1-for-3 with one run and two RBIs.

Grace seemed to dominate the second game, outhitting SAU 13-5. But the Lady Lancers committed four errors in the field to keep the game close.

The Cougars managed to push one run across in the first and second innings, but the Lady Lancers were not fazed. In the top of the second, Bobb drove in Castillo with yet another two-out RBI.

Grace then erupted with six runs in the third. The Lady Lancers quickly loaded bases with a double by Jessica Kaurich to go along with a walk and a single. Natalie Klingberg produced a pinch-hit single to score one run, and Taylor Asher cleared the bases with a three-run double to right-center field.

Later in the inning, Bobb executed a well-placed squeeze bunt to score Asher, and Olivia Scarbrough doubled to score Heim.

Grace held that 7-2 cushion until the bottom of the fifth. The Cougars set up a nervy finish to the game with four runs in the fifth; Grace had two errors in the inning to help make the score 7-6.

Dori Knight came in to relieve Heim on the mound for the final two innings, and the sophomore hurler did her job. Knight retired six of the seven batters she faced to pick up the save.

Heim earned the win by going five innings, allowing five hits and three earned runs to score with five strikeouts. She also hit 2-for-4 with a double and a run from the plate.

Castillo batted 2-for-4 with two runs and a stolen base, and Bobb was 2-for-2 with two RBIs.

Kaurich doubled twice and drove in a run, Scarbrough hit 2-for-4 with an RBI, and Asher finished 1-for-4 with one run and three RBIs.

The Lady Lancers will end the week with a pair of road matchups. Grace plays at Huntington on Friday and at Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Saturday.

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