Pictured are Grace's seniors who were honored on Senior Day. From L-R: Bethany Gardner, Jessica Kaurich, Kendra Arnold and Trinity Christmas
Pictured are Grace's seniors who were honored on Senior Day. From L-R: Bethany Gardner, Jessica Kaurich, Kendra Arnold and Trinity Christmas
WINONA LAKE  – Grace’s softball team produced a split in its doubleheader against Spring Arbor on Senior Day.

The Lady Lancers (12-27, 9-19 Crossroads League) and Cougars played a pair of low-scoring outings with Grace winning the opener 2-1 and losing the second 3-1 on Friday.

The first game quickly settled into a defensive battle. Jeri Ellis pitched her way around SAU’s bats, blanking the Cougars for the first five innings.

Grace wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. Bethany Gardner led off the first inning with a walk, and she eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Cassandra Hayes.

The Lady Lancers had chances to score again, but the score remained 1-0 through five innings.

SAU generated the game-tying run in the top of the sixth. The Cougars (14-25, 8-20 CL) used a double, bunt and a single to push a run across and even the game at 1-1.

But the Lady Lancers had an immediate response in the bottom of the sixth. Hayes drove a double to right-center field, and Emily Revercomb entered to pinch run.

A wild pitch moved Revercomb to third base, and a ground ball by Kendra Arnold allowed Revercomb to cross home plate for the go-ahead run.

Ellis took care of SAU in the top of the seventh to secure the victory. Ellis earned the complete-game victory, allowing just five hits and one run. She walked one and struck out four in an impressive performance.

Tia O’Connor had Grace’s best bat, hitting 2 for 2 with a hit by pitch as well.

The Cougars took their first lead of the day in the first inning of game two. SAU used a bunt and two singles to generate the first run of the contest.

SAU doubled its lead with another run in the third, and Grace responded with a run in the fourth.

Tia O’Connor singled and moved to second with a bunt. Bree Gardinier then produced a two-out single to bring in O’Connor and make the score 2-1.

The Cougars added an insurance run in the sixth with a sacrifice fly to go ahead by two runs.

Grace was unable to produce a baserunner across the final two innings and had to settle for the 3-1 defeat.

Kierstin Fickas threw the complete game and yielded seven hits and three runs; she struck out six batters over her seven innings.

O’Connor hit 1 for 3 with a run scored, and Gardinier was 1 for 3 with an RBI.

The Lady Lancers will head to Ohio tomorrow for a doubleheader at Mt. Vernon Nazarene at 1 p.m.

Grace Track Continues Success At Little State

MARION - The men's and women's track teams finished up a successful weekend at the Indiana Little State Championships on Saturday, both finishing in  fifth place in the team standings. The second day of competition also produced four additional NAIA national qualifiers and a pair of school records.

The race of the day came in the men's 1500 where Bryan Hernandez-Rios came back in the final meters to claim the title in 3:49.88. The time, which is an "A" qualifier, currently ranks second in the NAIA and gives the Lancers two men ranked nationally, as Dimitri Margaritidis ran 3:50.57 earlier this season.

Kylie Sauder put her name in the record books once again, finishing the women's 1500 in 4:41.11. She claims the record from teammate Heather Plastow, who set the mark of 4:43.12 just two weeks ago. Sauder also holds the 800 school record.

The sprints provided two more national qualifiers. The breezy conditions pushed John Green to a time of 21.47 in the 200 meters, breaking his own school record and hitting the NAIA "B" standard. In the women's 200, Gracious O'Connor finished in second place with a time of 24.85 to hit the NAIA "B" qualifying mark. O'Connor also took second in the 100 in 12.16.

On the men's side, Isaac Brown was second in the high jump (2.05m / 6-8 3/4); Kyle Smith (1:53.17) and Tanner Sallee (1:53.99) finished third and fourth, respectively, in the 800 meters; Logan Rufenacht ended third in the 3000 steeplechase (9:45.44); Michael Williams was sixth in the 400 meters (50.26); and Korry Hamlin ended eighth in the 5000 meters (15:38.53).

For the women, Tara Friesen (2:19.32) and Heather Plastow (2:19.70) ended third and fourth in the 800, while Anna Hulstedt (2:22.10) was eighth. Nordia Campbell placed sixth in both the 100 (12.35) and 200 (25.32); Emily McCreary tied for sixth in the high jump (1.54m. / 5-0 1/2), Emma Conrad was seventh in the 100 hurdles (15.38), Michaela Buriff finished eighth in the 400 hurdles (1:13.48); and Mackenzie DeLong ended eighth in the discus (39.07m / 128-2).

The men's team totaled 75 points to finish in fifth place, just two points out of fourth. The women scored 60.5 points to tie for fifth with Bethel. Marian University won both the men's and the women's competition.

Grace will host the annual Lancer Invitational next Friday, April 29.

Cougars defeat Lancers to end series

WINONA LAKE – Grace’s baseball team was unable to knock off Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Saturday in a doubleheader at Miller Athletic Complex.

The Lancers fell 11-10 and 7-3 in Grace’s final home series of the Crossroads League season.

Grace will play one more set of games at home next week. The Lancers are set to host IU Kokomo for a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Tuesday in their home finale.

In the opening game, the Cougars (31-14, 24-8 CL) jumped out to an early lead. MVNU used a two-out rally, culminating in a grand slam.

Grace wasted little time in responding. Cal Curiel reached base, and Austin Carr brought him home with a two-run homer to left field which sliced the deficit to 4-2.

MVNU continued scoring; the Cougars had five hits in the third to generate two more runs and claim a 6-2 lead.

But Grace had a response ready in the bottom of the third. Lucas Slager began the team’s scoring with an RBI triple, and Jeff Pawlik hit a two-run homer for Grace’s second long ball of the game.

Carr later drove in Curiel to provide the game-tying run at 6-6.

MVNU added a solo homer in the top of the fourth; the Cougars tacked on four more runs over the following innings to grab an 11-6 edge.

But Grace had a rally in store. During the eighth inning, Chris Griffin parked a two-run home run to center field to pull the Lancers within three.

The Lancers (16-29, 10-22 CL) continued to make the Cougars sweat into the ninth inning. Pawlik doubled and moved to third on a single. Carr allowed Pawlik to score on the next at-bat with a sacrifice fly.

Two more singles from Isaiah Herbster and Patrick Danforth allowed the Lancers to score again, bringing Grace to within one at 11-10.

But with two runners on base, the Lancers were retired with a strikeout to fall by a single run.

Kyle Aten pitched the longest stint, giving up four runs across five innings with three strikeouts. Zach Platt also threw 1.2 innings in relief with one run allowed.

Carr had two hits and four RBIs, and Pawlik was 2 for 3 with 2 walks, 2 runs and 2 RBIs. Curiel recorded three hits and three runs, Danforth had three hits, and Griffin notched two hits and two RBIs.

In the second game, both Grace and MVNU registered eight hits apiece. But it was the Cougars who pulled out the 7-3 victory.

MVNU used the long ball again, scoring three of its runs via home runs. The Cougars pounced on Grace early with a four-run first inning.

MVNU added a run in the second and fourth innings to seize control.

Grace did its best to keep pace. Danforth hit a leadoff homer in the bottom of the first, and Curiel raced home in the second off a ground ball.

Grace still trailed 6-2 after five innings. Both teams plated once in the sixth inning; Carr drove in Slager during Grace’s half of the inning.

But the Lancers were unable to pull any closer to the Cougars and fell by four.

Isaiah Herbster, Caleb Farney, Hunter Schumacher, Kameron Koch and Jake Cox combined to pitch the game for the Lancers.

Slager hit 2 for 3 with a run scored, and Carr was 2 for 3 with an RBI.