UPLAND – Grace College’s softball team was eliminated from the Crossroads League Tournament on Wednesday.
In both of Grace’s tournament games, the Lady Lancers (22-27) surrendered the winning run in the seventh inning. Grace fell to Mt. Vernon Nazarene 6-5 in the opening round before being upset by eighth-seeded Marian 4-3 in the losers’ bracket.
Grace fell behind early in the opener after Mt. Vernon hit a three-run homer in the top of the first inning. The Lady Lancers slowly chipped away at the Cougars’ lead, consistently putting runners in scoring position.
Brooke Shell and Tiffany Featherston scored for Grace in the bottom of the first, Shell scored again in the third, and Paige Petrone tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the third after scoring on Brittany Melzoni’s single.
After Mt. Vernon Nazarene hit another homer in the top of the sixth to go ahead 5-4, the Lady Lancers tied the score in the bottom of the inning. Petrone stepped up to bat with two outs and promptly singled in pinch runner Jordan McKinley from second base.
The Cougars (21-18) scored the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh, benefitting from a fielding error to score an unearned run. The Lady Lancers were retired 1-2-3 in their final at-bats to fall to the losers’ bracket.
Overall, Grace stranded 11 base runners in the loss. Winget and Shell both notched two hits apiece as Shell scored twice.
Similar to the opening game, Grace struggled to convert base runners into runs against Marian. The Lady Lancers stranded 10 runners, including a bases-loaded situation in the second.
The Knights scored the first run of the game in the opening inning, but Winget tied the game in the third with a solo home run, her 11th homer of the season.
Marian countered with a two-run homer in the fourth to move ahead 3-1. Clarissa Knight evened the game with a two-out, two-run double in the sixth inning.
After Grace came up empty in its half of the seventh, the Knights (25-23) won the game in their final at-bats. With two outs against them, Marian singled up the middle to win in walk-off fashion.
Winget was 2 for 4 from the plate, and Samantha Johnson was 2 for 3. Hannah Adams took the loss in the circle, tossing the complete game.
The Lady Lancers will turn its focus on qualifying for the NCCAA World Series. The NCCAA Midwest Regional Tournament begins on May 5 in Oakland City.