Benson, Anton named NAIA Scholar-Athletes


WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Genevieve Benson and Jessica Anton were honored as 2012 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes at the conclusion of the season.

Benson, a senior, was named an NAIA Scholar-Athlete for the second straight season after winning the award as a junior. She also became Grace’s first CoSIDA All-District winner after boasting a 3.91 GPA as a sport management major.

To receive Scholar-Athlete status by the NAIA, student-athletes must attain a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale and be at least a junior academically.

Winget, Benson receive honors


WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Genevieve Benson and Olivia Winget earned individual postseason honors after leading Grace’s softball team to their best record in the Mid-Central College Conference since 2005.

Benson was named to the CoSIDA All-District Team, and Winget was named honorable mention All-MCC.

Benson made the list for the College Division of the CoSIDA All-District Team. The senior from Egg Harbor City, N.J., boasts a 3.91 GPA as a sport management major.

CoSIDA honors student-athletes from the NAIA as well as NCAA Division I, II and III who have earned at least a 3.3 GPA. The members of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) then vote through the district and national winners of eligible student-athletes.

Benson was third on Grace’s team with a .289 batting average. She pounded out 12 doubles and four triples, scoring a team-high 27 runs. She also recorded the best fielding percentage on the team with a .975.

Winget earned her second straight appearance on the honorable mention list for All-MCC. The sophomore led Grace both from the plate and from the mound.

She led the Lady Lancers in numerous batting categories, including batting average (.324), hits (48), home runs (11) and slugging percentage (.588). Her 11 home runs set a program record for a single season as she became the first Lady Lancer to reach double-digit homers in a year.

Winget also posted the lowest ERA on the pitching staff with a 4.45 ERA in 144 2/3 innings pitched.

Grace's season ends in MCC Tournament


MARION, Ind. – Grace’s softball team wrapped up its 2012 campaign in the Mid-Central College Conference Tournament, falling 10-3 to Indiana Wesleyan and 5-1 to Huntington in the double-elimination tourney.

In their first game, Grace was done in by a big fourth inning from Indiana Wesleyan.

The Lady Lancers (10-44) took a 3-1 lead with a three runs in the top of the fourth. Genevieve Benson tied the game with a one-out double. She, along with Meredith Baker, scored on the next at-bat when Sam Fields doubled to left field.

The Wildcats (41-11) were swift in their comeback, however. Indiana Wesleyan used two Lady Lancer fielding errors and seven hits of their own to plate nine runs.

Grace had baserunners in scoring position in both the fifth and sixth innings, but they could not score to help bridge the gap and dropped into the consolation bracket.

Benson led Grace from the plate by going 2-for-3, and Field was 1-for-2 with two RBIs. Both players stole a base as well in the loss.

In their consolation bracket night game with Huntington, Grace was neck-and-neck with the Foresters (29-17) through four innings.

The Lady Lancers loaded the bases in the third inning from a walk and two Forester fielding errors. Baker then laid down a one-out bunt to squeeze home Jordan McKinley. The Lady Lancers could do no more damage, however, and had their final two batters retired with the bases loaded.

Grace had runners in scoring position in the first and fourth innings but failed to convert. Huntington, on the other hand, led 2-1 after four innings and put the game out of reach with a three-run fifth for the game’s final margin.

Baker finished 2-for-3 from the plate with an RBI. She was also credited with the loss from the mound by giving up three runs in four innings.

Grace ends their season with a record of 10-44 and earned a berth in the MCC Tournament for the second straight year under head coach Heather Johnson.

Lady Lancers bow out of NCCAA Regionals


SPRING ARBOR, Mich. – Grace’s softball team came up short in both of their games on Friday in the NCCAA Regional Tournament.

The Lady Lancers (10-42) lost to top-seeded Indiana Wesleyan 7-3 in their first game before falling to host Spring Arbor 9-1.

In their first game, Grace was only outhit 10-8, but the Lady Lancers were credited with five errors in the field to help the Wildcats to their four-run victory.

After falling behind 2-0 early, Grace placed one run on the scoreboard in the second inning when Becky Almack’s ground ball to second base allowed Olivia Winget to score from third base.

The Wildcats (40-10) continued to score, however, adding two runs in the fourth and one run in each of the final three innings.

Grace again used an RBI groundout in the sixth inning to stay within striking distance. On this instance, Alison Butler drove in Meredith Baker.

In the seventh inning, Tiffany Featherston did her best to keep Grace’s hopes alive when she singled home Marissa Kennedy with two outs. But their comeback ended soon after with a fly out.

Featherston led all batters in the game by going 3-for-4 with a double, and Baker finished 2-for-3.

The Lady Lancers were much quieter offensively in the second game. Spring Arbor held Grace to just three scattered hits in their six-inning win.

Grace’s only run occurred in the bottom of the fifth inning when Winget came home to score on a wild pitch.

Spring Arbor, on the other hand, had multi-run innings in the first (4 runs), fourth (2) and sixth (2) innings.

Featherston, Winget and Baker combined for Grace’s three hits in the loss.

With their 9-1 defeat, the Lady Lancers were officially eliminated from the double-elimination tournament to end their hopes of making the NCCAA Nationals.

At the tournament's conclusion, both Olivia Winget and Meredith Baker were named to the NCCAA All-Tournament Team. Winget was also named NCCAA All-Midwest Region, and Genevieve Benson was honorable mention for All-Region. Benson and Jess Anton were also named NCCAA All-Region Scholar-Athletes.

The Lady Lancers will next play in the Mid-Central College Conference Tournament in Marion, Ind., starting on May 2.

Purdue North Central takes two from Grace


WESTVILLE, Ind. – The Lady Lancers lost 9-4 and 10-2 in their final doubleheader of the regular season to Purdue North Central on Wednesday.

Grace took a 3-0 lead in the first inning of their opener with two-out contributions from Meredith Baker and Olivia Winget. Baker’s single to left field allowed leadoff hitter Brittney Thacker to score, and Winget followed that up with a home run to left-center field.

Winget, who already became the first Lady Lancer to record 10 home runs in a season, added her conference-leading 11th home run of the year to put the Lady Lancers ahead by three.

The score remained that way until the bottom of the fourth when the Panthers sliced to within 3-2. They continued that momentum into the fifth and sixth innings, adding seven more runs to take control of the game.

Thacker, Baker and Winget each tallied two hits in the loss with Thacker adding an RBI and a stolen base.

In the second game, Purdue North Central did most of their damage in the second inning.

The Panthers scored six runs on five hits to take an 8-0 lead. They added two more in the third and held Grace scoreless until the top of the fifth.

With two outs in their final at-bats of the game, Sam Fields singled to center field to plate Tiffany Featherston and Thacker. But that proved to be the only production for the Lady Lancers.

Thacker, Fields and Baker each added a hit in the loss.

The Lady Lancers shift gears to the regional tournament for the NCCAA National Championships. Grace will face Indiana Wesleyan on Friday at 11 a.m. in the first game of the double-elimination tournament held at Spring Arbor University.

Winget first to reach 10 home runs


MISHAWAKA, Ind. – Olivia Winget became the first Lady Lancer to record 10 home runs in a season when she homered in the second game in Grace’s doubleheader with Bethel on Tuesday.

The Lady Lancers (10-38; 5-13 MCC) fell 9-0 and 14-3 to Bethel in their final conference series of the season but not without the record-setting moment of Winget’s blast.

Winget had already broken Liz Thomas’s record of six single-season home runs set in 1998, but she further cemented her name in Grace’s record books with a solo home run in the top of the fifth inning in the second game.

Grace was only afforded one hit offensively in the opener. Winget broke up the no-hitter with a single in the fourth inning.

The Pilots (22-12; 16-0 MCC) scored nine runs on seven hits in the win, tallying three doubles and a grand slam in the third inning.

Bethel’s third inning was again lethal in the second game as they tallied eight of their 14 runs. They also tallied one run in the first, two in the second and three in the fourth.

Grace scored two of their three runs in the third inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, freshman Meredith Baker drilled a double to left field to plate Alison Butler and Jordan McKinley.

Their other run was Winget’s fifth-inning home run to left field.

The Lady Lancers recorded at least one hit in each inning, but they could not keep pace with Bethel’s 17 hits. Grace also did not help its own cause with four errors in the second game.

The Lady Lancers conclude their regular season when they travel to Purdue North Central on Wednesday for a 3 p.m. start.

Calumet takes twin bill from Grace


WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s softball team lost a doubleheader to Calumet College of St. Joseph on Saturday, falling 7-2 in an extra-innings battle and 5-2 in the second game.

In their first game, Grace’s softball team took a 2-0 lead in the second inning that remained until the latter stages of the game.

The Lady Lancers (10-36) tallied two singles and benefitted from two fielding errors by the Crimson Wave (24-20) to plate Meredith Baker and Olivia Winget.

Baker held Calumet St. Joseph to three scattered hits through the first five innings before the Crimson Wave tied the game with a two-run home run in the sixth.

Grace was unable to win the game in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings, and the Crimson Wave finally took control of the game in the eighth.

Grace committed two errors in the field to help the Crimson Wave score twice, and Caitlyn Wilcox gave the team a 7-2 lead with a three-run homer to left field. The bottom of the eighth was a 1-2-3 inning for Grace.

The Lady Lancers were held to five hits in the game with Baker, Brittney Thacker, Genevieve Benson, Tiffany Featherston and Alison Butler tallying a hit apiece.

Grace was limited offensively in the second game to just three hits. Calumet St. Joseph, on the other hand, generated runs throughout the game. They scored single runs in the first three innings and added another in the fifth and sixth innings.

The sixth inning provided Grace’s primary offensive outburst. After Jordan McKinley was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, Butler brought her home with a triple to right field. Winget made the score 5-2 with an RBI ground out to score Butler.

But it was too little too late as the Crimson Wave offense outhit the Lady Lancers 10-3 overall.

The Lady Lancers have one week remaining in the regular season, kicking off with their conference finale at Bethel College on Tuesday.

Grace lets two slip to Mount Vernon


MOUNT VERNON, Ohio – Grace’s softball team lost a pair of close decisions versus Mount Vernon Nazarene on Thursday, falling 3-2 in the opener followed by an extra-innings 2-1 loss.

The Lady Lancers (10-34; 5-11 MCC) fell behind 3-0 after the first two innings of the opening game. Grace had runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings but failed to score.

Grace scored their first run in the fourth when Olivia Winget scored from second base on a fielding error. Allison Butler brought Grace to within one run when her RBI single plated Sarah Elliott.

The seventh inning nearly resulted in a comeback for the Lady Lancers when they moved Tiffany Featherston to third base with one out. But Grace was retired with a groundout and a fielder’s choice.

Winget took the loss from the mound by giving up eight hits and one earned run while striking out three.

Brittney Thacker, Jordan McKinley and Winget each tallied two hits in the loss. Grace, who outhit the Cougars 9-8, stranded eight baserunners compared to just two for Mount Vernon.

The Lady Lancers again left eight runners on base in the second game in their 2-1 loss. The Cougars (10-21; 3-11 MCC) used a Lancer fielding error to score the game’s first run in the third.

McKinley’s run tied the game in the top of the fourth after Winget singled her home. Grace nearly took the lead in the sixth, but Meredith Baker was thrown out at home for the game’s final out.

Neither team was able to win the game in the seventh, but Mount Vernon sealed the victory with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth.

Baker was credited with the loss despite giving up one earned run. She struck out five batters and allowed eight hits.

Winget continued her hot hitting with a 3-of-4 performance with a run driven in, and Sam Fields was 2-for-4 in the loss.

Grace’s game on Friday with Trinity Christian has been cancelled, but the Lady Lancers will have Senior Day on Saturday against Calumet College of St. Joseph starting at 1 p.m.

Lady Lancers come up short to Huntington


WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s softball team lost an early lead in both of their games against Huntington, falling 5-2 and 5-1 on Tuesday.

Grace escaped an opening-inning threat in the first game when the Foresters (21-13; 9-5 MCC) loaded the bases with one out after three walks. But Olivia Winget got the final two outs with a strikeout and ground out.

The Lady Lancers (10-32; 5-9 MCC) took the lead in the second inning when freshman Becky Almack drilled a two-out double to the left-center field gap to score Sam Fields.

Grace stayed in front thanks to Winget’s pitching. She had a no-hitter going through four innings before the Foresters got on the scoreboard. In the fifth inning, Huntington used a double, a single and a sacrifice fly to go in front 2-1.

They added a solo home run in the sixth and scored twice in the seventh to take a four-run lead.

Grace started a rally in the bottom of the seventh when Jordan McKinley bunted for a hit, and Genevieve Benson reached base on an error. But the Lady Lancers could only tally one run in the inning off a sacrifice fly from Winget as Grace lost 5-2.

The Foresters won despite committing four errors. Grace left nine runners on base compared to five for Huntington. Almack led Grace from the plate in the first game by going 2-for-3.

In the second game, Grace again scored first with a run in the second inning when Sarah Elliott’s two-out single plated Almack.

Huntington was scoreless through three innings before breaking loose with a five-run fourth inning, highlighted by a grand slam.

Grace was unable to move a runner past home plate to keep up with Huntington. Despite only being outhit by one in the game (6-5), Grace earned zero walks while the Foresters earned four.

Genevieve Benson finished 2-for-3 in the second game to lead Grace’s offense.

The Lady Lancers travel to Mount Vernon Nazarene on Thursday for a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m.

Errors plague Grace in doubleheader with Malone


CANTON, Ohio – Grace’s softball team did not help their cause from the field on Friday, totaling eight errors in a pair of 9-0, 8-3 losses to Malone University.

The Lady Lancers (10-30) were shut out in the first game. They made matters worse by allowing the Pioneers to score nine runs on 10 hits including a pivotal fourth inning.

The Pioneers led 3-0 after three innings, but they managed to end the game early when they notched six runs in the fourth. Malone pounded out four doubles and was helped by two Lancer fielding errors to take their final nine-run margin.

Freshman pitcher Meredith Baker pitched a complete game and took the loss. Only three of the nine runs charged to her account were earned.

Sarah Elliott finished a perfect 2-for-2 from the plate, and Brittney Thacker was 2-for-3.

In their second game, the Lady Lancers were much improved from the plate led by Olivia Winget’s solo home run in the fourth inning. But Grace committed five errors in the game, allowing Malone to win by five runs.

Malone benefitted from two errors by Grace in the second inning as they scored five times to take a commanding 6-0 lead.

The Lady Lancers added single runs in the third, fourth and seventh innings, but their rallies were not substantial enough to make a dent in Malone’s lead.

Winget and Genevieve Benson each finished 2-for-3 from the plate with an RBI.

The Lady Lancers resume conference action when they host Huntington University on Tuesday starting at 3 p.m.

Lady Lancers drop pair of close games


FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Despite outhitting Saint Francis 11-8 on the day, Grace’s softball team struggled to manufacture runs.

The Lady Lancers (10-28; 5-7 MCC) lost 3-0 in their first game before falling 2-1 to complete the sweep for Saint Francis.

Olivia Winget pitched a complete game for Grace in the opener and took the loss, despite not surrendering an earned run to the Cougars (17-13; 7-3 MCC).

Saint Francis scored the only three runs of the game in the second inning, helped by a Lancer fielding error and a batter who was hit by pitch.

The Cougars gave the Lady Lancers all the help they could by committing four errors of their own, but Grace was unable to score and left nine runners on base.

Grace had their best chance in the seventh inning with the bases loaded, but their rally ended with a fly out.

Becky Almack finished 2-for-3 from the plate, and Winget was strong from the mound by only allowing six hits.

In the second game, the Lady Lancers again struggled to score despite recording six hits compared to two for Saint Francis.

The Lady Lancers went ahead with a two-out rally in the first inning. Genevieve Benson came around to score when Meredith Baker doubled to right-center field for Grace’s only run of the game.

Grace’s fielding proved to be their downfall, however. The Cougars scored twice in the game with both runs resulting from Lancer fielding errors.

Saint Francis added the game-tying run in the fourth inning off a two-out error, and they secured the victory with a run in the sixth inning when Grace committed two more errors.

Baker was 2-for-2 in the loss and pitched all six innings in the loss. She yielded two unearned runs on two hits, striking out five and walking four.

The Lady Lancers hit the road tomorrow when they face Malone University at 3 p.m.

Baker, Elliott shine in sweep of Taylor


UPLAND, Ind. – A pair of freshmen led the charge in Grace’s sweep over Taylor University on Tuesday.

Meredith Baker earned both wins from the mound while Sarah Elliott hit a home run in each game for the Lady Lancers (10-26; 5-5 MCC).

“I’m proud of the girls for playing solid defense, especially our outfield who covered a lot of ground to take away their offensive momentum,” said Grace head coach Heather Johnson. “Meredith [Baker] did a great job in keeping hitters off-balance and showed great composure in both games. Sarah Elliot had a big day with home runs to help solidify our games.”

In their opener, Baker was the dominant force both from the mound and with the bat. She threw a six-hit complete-game victory, giving up two runs in a 4-2 victory. She was also 2-for-3 from the plate with three RBIs.

The Trojans (19-17; 4-6 MCC) scored two runs in the bottom of the first off Baker before the freshman hurler cooled off their bats for good.

Elliott got the Lady Lancers’ scoring started with a leadoff solo home run to right field in the top of the third. Grace’s next two batters were retired before a fielding error gave the Lady Lancers a second chance. Baker then drove in a pair of runs with a two-out single to give Grace the lead for good.

Baker added an insurance run in the fifth inning with an RBI single to plate Genevieve Benson, and Taylor could not move a runner past second base for the final six innings.

In the second game, Taylor again scored first with a single tally in the first inning. Grace retook the lead with runs in the second and third innings, but Taylor knotted the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the third.

Elliott provided what turned out to be the game-winning home run blast to center field in the top of the fourth, and Baker took care of the rest from the mound by throwing four shutout innings of relief to secure the victory.

Jordan McKinley was 3-for-4 from the plate in the win, and Baker surrendered just four hits in her four scoreless innings pitched.

“I’m very proud of the team to continue to compete and improve their game as our season has progressed,” Johnson continued. “A record of 5-5 in the conference at this point is a great accomplishment for our program.”

The Lady Lancers will hope to continue their winning ways when they travel to Saint Francis on Thursday for a doubleheader at 3 p.m.

Big innings doom Lady Lancers


JACKSON, Mich. – Siena Heights only scored in three total innings in their doubleheader with Grace, but they made their opportunities count in a sweep of the Lady Lancers.

Grace fell 7-1 in their opening game before falling 7-4 in the second.

The Lady Lancers (8-26) struck first in the opening game when Sam Fields scored from third base on a passed ball in the second inning. Grace almost scored earlier in the inning, but Olivia Winget was thrown out at home.

Grace had an opportunity to increase their lead in the third, but the team stranded three runners on base with a strikeout.

The Saints (23-15) countered with a four-run third inning and a three-run fifth inning to take a commanding 7-1 lead that Grace could not puncture.

Genevieve Benson finished 1-for-2 in the opener, Winget was 1-for-1, and Tiffany Featherston, Meredith Baker, Fields and Becky Almack each tallied hits.

Siena Heights did all of their damage in one fateful inning of their second game.

Grace once again scored first when Marissa Kennedy came around to score in the top of the second inning. But the Saints had big plans for their half of the inning.

Siena Heights pounded out five singles, a double and a triple in the bottom of the seventh, tallying seven runs and seven of their eight hits in the contest.

Grace managed to slice into the Saints’ lead with three more runs in the fifth inning. The Lady Lancers benefitted from two fielding errors in the inning but also singled twice and walked once.

But the Lady Lancers were not able to come closer than three runs the rest of the way.

Baker and Winget each finished 2-for-4 with a run driven in. Winget was impressive from the mound by tossing four scoreless innings. She struck out four batters and gave up one hit in relief.

The Lady Lancers continue conference play when they take on Taylor University on the road Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Baker's bat not enough as Grace falls to Manchester


WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Freshman Meredith Baker drove in four runs on the day, including a two-run home run, but the Lady Lancers could not produce enough runs to keep pace with Manchester.

Grace fell 7-3 and 8-5 in their doubleheader at Miller Field on Thursday.

Grace got on the scoreboard first in the opening game, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning.

Jordan McKinley led off the inning with a single, and Genevieve Benson also reached with a walk. Meredith Baker took care of the rest with a double to deep center field to score the pair.

The Spartans (14-12) jumped on top with a three-run second from two singles and a double. Manchester tallied three more hits in the third to score twice and take a 5-2 lead.

Grace’s defense struggled to make plays in the opening game, committing an error in each of the first four innings.

The Lady Lancers (8-24) edged closer when Sarah Elliott’s ground ball scored Baker to make the score 5-3 in the fourth inning. Grace could have tallied again, but Manchester threw out one Grace runner at the plate, and the Lady Lancers stranded two runners on base with a strikeout.

Manchester added an insurance run in the sixth and seventh innings while Grace was unable to score again.

Overall, Grace was outhit 11-2, but the Lady Lancers also managed to earn four walks in the loss.

After Baker knocked in two runs in the first game, she kept her bat hot with a first-inning home run in the second game.

McKinley led off and reached base from a Manchester error. Grace moved McKinley over to third base with consecutive sacrifice bunts before Baker blasted her two-out, two-run home run over the center field fence.

Manchester had a big inning in store, however. The first two batters of the third inning resulted in two outs, but the Spartans proceeded to load the bases with two walks and a single. The next two batters doubled to plate four runners.

The Lady Lancers responded with two runs in the bottom of the third, thanks to an RBI double from Benson and a bases-loaded hit by pitch that plated Benson. Although Grace ended the inning with the bases loaded, they still sliced the lead to 5-4.

The Spartans increased their margin to four with a pair of runs in the fourth and another in the seventh, and Grace was unable to make a comeback over the final four innings.

Tiffany Featherston finished the second game 2-for-3 with a run scored, and Marissa Kennedy was 2-for-2.

Overall, the Lady Lancers stranded 11 runners on base in the second game compared to five for Manchester.

Grace returns to action on Saturday when they play at Siena Heights at 11 a.m.

Grace loses early lead on Indiana Tech


FORT WAYNE, Ind. – After falling 5-0 in their first game, Grace’s softball team rebounded by taking a three-run lead over Indiana Tech in the second game.

But the Warriors came back with four runs, including the game-winning RBI double in the seventh inning, to win 4-3.

The Lady Lancers (8-22) were held to just four hits in their opening loss. Grace stranded six runners on base, including leaving a pair of runners on base in the third and fourth innings.

Jordan McKinley, Olivia Winget, Samantha Fields and Brittney Thacker each tallied hits in the loss.

Grace came out strong to start the second game with three runs in the top of the first. Tiffany Featherston and Genevieve Benson reached base with back-to-back singles, and Meredith Baker brought them both home with a double to left field.

Baker then came around to score on a throwing error in the field by the Warriors (18-24).

The Lady Lancers hurt their own cause by committing three errors after that point. Indiana Tech tallied their runs in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings – all innings in which Grace recorded a fielding error.

In the seventh inning, Olivia Winget retired the first two batters. But the next batter reached first base on an error by Grace’s infield, and Jessica Cotton doubled home the winning run for the Warriors in the next at-bat.

Winget was solid on the mound, allowing two earned runs in a complete game with five strikeouts and zero walks.

Featherston finished 2-for-4 from the plate, and Jessica Anton went 1-for-3 with a double.

The Lady Lancers next play Thursday when they welcome Manchester College to Miller Field at 3:30 p.m.

Lady Lancers slip to Marian


WINONA LAKE, Ind. – The Grace College softball team gave away a pair of games to Marian University on Saturday. The Lady Lancers (7-19; 2-4 MCC) could not quiet the Knights’ bats, falling 8-0 and 8-2 at Miller Field.

Marian set the tone early for the day when they rattled off three runs in the top of the first inning.

The Knights would add a pair of runs in the third thanks to two errors from the Lady Lancers, and a three-run home run by Marian in the fourth inning allowed the Knights to end the game after five innings.

Genevieve Benson and Becky Almack were the only two Lady Lancers who recorded hits in the first game with each going 1-for-2.

Grace’s bats were much livelier in the second game although they were still outhit 13-7.

Marian led 4-0 as the game entered the sixth inning, but they managed to tack on two more runs thanks to Grace’s errors. Grace retired the first two batters of the inning, but they committed two errors after that to fall behind by six runs.

The Lady Lancers responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth. Grace loaded the bases with two outs, threatening to score again, but a ground out ended their rally.

Tiffany Featherston and Olivia Winget tallied two hits apiece in the loss.

The Lady Lancers will take on Spring Arbor University on the road on Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Grace wins in 10 innings, sweeps Goshen on day


WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s softball team earned their first conference wins of the season with a sweep of Goshen College on Thursday.

The Lady Lancers (7-17; 2-2 MCC) pulled out a 2-1 thriller in 10 innings before taking a 7-2 victory in the second game.

Both teams got off to a slow start offensively in the opening game. The game contained two total hits through five quick innings of play.

The Maple Leafs managed to score without a hit in the top of the fifth. Goshen put two runners on with only one out and pushed Devon Ownby across the plate on a ground out to take a 1-0 lead.

Grace finally broke onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jessica Anton got the Lady Lancers started when she beat out the shortstop’s throw for an infield single. Two sacrifice bunts brought Anton to third base with Tiffany Featherston up to bat with two outs.

Featherston came up golden with a game-tying RBI single through the left side of the infield to plate Anton.

As neither team found the winning tally in the seventh, the game headed to extra innings.

With the international tiebreaker in effect in the top of the 10th inning, Goshen moved their baserunner to third base with one out. Olivia Winget pitched out of the jam, however, with two fly outs to retire the side.

Sam Fields was placed on second base to start Grace’s half of the 10th inning thanks to the international tiebreaker. Allison Butler led off the inning with a bunt to first base. Goshen’s first baseman was well off the mark on her toss to first to beat Butler, which allowed Fields to scamper home for the winning run.

Winget was nearly untouchable on the mound, allowing just one run on five hits and two walks in 10 innings. Genevieve Benson led Grace at the plate by going 2-for-4.

In the second game, Grace looked to keep their momentum going in the first inning. Featherston hit an infield single, and Benson moved her to third base with a bunt that was misplayed in the field by Goshen.

But the Maple Leafs kept the game scoreless when they snuffed out Grace’s squeeze bunt attempt, tagging out Featherston to stop Grace’s threat.

The Lady Lancers were not to be slowed for long, jumping ahead with three runs in the third inning. Meredith Baker, who took the win from the mound, helped her own cause with a two-run double to center field. She scored two pitches later when Winget singled her home to put Grace ahead by three.

Grace tacked on four more runs with a two-out rally in the fourth inning. Fields and Butler connected on back-to-back singles with two outs. Both Fields and Winget recorded RBi singles in the inning.

Goshen tallied single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to cut the deficit to five, but that would be as close as the Maple Leafs would get.

Winget finished 3-for-3 with a pair of runs driven in from the plate, and Baker and Fields each tallied two hits.

Baker earned the win, yielding two runs on eight hits and a walk.

The Lady Lancers welcome Marian University to Miller Field on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Wildcats blank Lady Lancers


WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace and Indiana Wesleyan kicked off the Mid-Central College Conference season on Tuesday afternoon, and the Wildcats shut down the Lady Lancers with a pair of shutouts.

In the opener, Grace’s offense was held to three hits in a 6-0 loss.

The Lady Lancers (5-17; 0-2 MCC) had their most dangerous moment in the top of the first with runners on second and third. But Grace failed to convert with a double play to end the inning.

Indiana Wesleyan made them pay in the second inning with a leadoff home run.

The score stayed 1-0 through three innings, but the Wildcats (20-4; 2-0 MCC) added another run in the fourth and three more in the fifth.

Grace committed two errors in the top of the fifth to allow Indiana Wesleyan to plate three and gain a comfortable margin.

Abbie Forman did the rest for Indiana Wesleyan, earning a complete-game shutout. Forman struck out 14 batters with only three hits allowed.

Brittney Thacker and Tiffany Featherston led off the first inning with back-to-back hits, and Genevieve Benson notched Grace’s final hit in the bottom of the seventh.

In the second game, Indiana Wesleyan held a slight 1-0 advantage into the top of the fourth inning.

They finally broke out with a two-out rally in the fourth. The Wildcats used a two-run single and an RBI double to score three runs.

Grace again struggled to handle Forman’s pitching, managing just one hit by Thacker through six innings.

Similar to the first game, Benson earned a seventh-inning hit off Forman. She blasted a double to deep right field but was tagged out trying to stretch it into a triple. Olivia Winget followed Benson’s out with a single to left field, but Forman finished the inning and the game with a strike out and a fly out to earn her second shutout win of the day.

Freshman Meredith Baker pitched solidly in the loss, giving up six hits, three walks and five earned runs in seven innings.

The Lady Lancers will stay at Miller Field on Thursday with a doubleheader against Goshen College at 3 p.m.

Panthers slip past Lady Lancers in home opener


WINONA LAKE, Ind. – Grace’s softball team kicked off its home portion of the 2012 campaign with a pair of losses to Purdue North Central on Tuesday.

In front of a full grandstand at Miller Field, the Lady Lancers (5-15) lost a 5-4 extra-innings thriller before falling 9-0 in the second game.

Grace fell behind 3-0 after two innings courtesy of a two-run home run by the Panthers (9-11).

Grace made their charge in the fourth inning, however. The Lady Lancers led off the inning with back-to-back doubles by Tiffany Featherston and Genevieve Benson.

A pitching change for Purdue North Central resulted in two quick outs, but after a walk from Alison Butler, Samantha Fields blasted a two-run triple to right field to level the score. Fields came around to score when the Panthers committed a throwing error on the next batted ball. The Lady Lancers ended the fourth ahead 4-3.

The Panthers threatened to take over in the top of the fifth by loading the bases and scoring one with only one out. But Grace’s defense held stout, getting two consecutive force outs at the plate to keep the score tied.

Grace was able to muster just one more hit through the next five innings of action. In the top of the ninth, Purdue North Central used an error to help score the winning run. The Lancers were unable to match that tally in the bottom of the ninth, ending the game on a disappointing double play.

In the second game, freshman Meredith Baker was tossing a one-hitter after four complete innings before the Panthers got their bats going.

Purdue North Central tallied nine hits and nine runs in the fifth and sixth innings, while Grace could only muster three hits all game in their 9-0 loss.

Benson and Brittany Thacker were the only two Lady Lancers to record a hit in each game. Benson was 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI in the first game and 2-for-3 with a double in the second game.

The Lady Lancers continue play on Friday and Saturday at the IWU Invitational. Grace will play games at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday followed by 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. games on Saturday.

Lady Lancers fall to Union in opener


BARBOURVILLE, Ky. – Grace's softball team opened the 2012 season against Union College (Ky.), falling in a tripleheader on Saturday.

The Lady Lancers lost 4-5, 0-5 and 1-8 to the Bulldogs (8-3).

Game 1

In their season opener, Grace sent sophomore pitcher Olivia Winget out to the mound. Union struck first in the bottom of the first before seeing the Lady Lancers notch one run in the second and third innings to take a 2-1 lead.

The Bulldogs plated two more in the bottom of the third and another run in the fifth inning to go ahead by two runs. The Lady Lancers then rallied to tie the score 4-4 with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth, but Union tallied the winning run in the bottom of the sixth to spoil Grace's opener.

Jordan McKinley led Grace from the plate by going 2-for-3 with a run scored. Brittany Thacker, Winget, Meredith Baker and Genevieve Benson each added a hit while Winget notched two RBIs in the loss.

Game 2

Grace's bats were silenced in the second game as Union's Katie Perkins tossed a three-hitter against the Lady Lancers.

Union used a three-run third inning to blow open the score and added single runs in the bottom of the second and sixth innings for the final 5-0 margin.

The Lady Lancers stranded eight runners on base in the loss. Winget, Marissa Kennedy and Tiffany Featherston each recorded one of Grace's three hits.

Baker took the loss from the mound after throwing four innings.

Game 3

The Lady Lancers fell behind 2-0 after two innings in the day's final game, but freshman Sarah Elliott reached base on a walk in the third and came around to score to bridge the gap to 2-1.

Union, however, ended Grace's hopes with two runs in the bottom of the third and four runs in the fifth en route for the final 8-1 score.

The Bulldogs outhit the Lady Lancers 13-5 in the game.

Baker finished 2-for-3 from the plate, and Elliott was credited with the loss after throwing two innings.

The Lady Lancers will next head down South for an extended spring break trip.

Benson named Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete


WINONA LAKE, Ind. –After leading Grace’s softball team this season as the only upperclassman, junior Genevieve Benson was honored by the NAIA when was named a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete on Tuesday.

In order to be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must achieve a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and be at least a junior academically.

Benson, a sport management major, currently has a 3.94 GPA.

“Genevieve is a terrific all-around student-athlete. She pursues her work in the classroom as hard as she pursues athletics,” said head coach Heather Johnson. “She is a great student and a great role model for our younger players.”

Benson also excelled on the diamond, where she posted a .275 batting average with 21 runners batted in, which was second on the Lady Lancers this season.