Grace website, articles win national awards

June 26th, 2015

Grace’s website and athletic articles took home six national awards at last week’s NAIA-SIDA Convention in Orlando.

Overall, four articles and two website features were honored with top-10 finishes at the national level. The six national honors in 2014-15 marks Grace’s largest awards haul in department history.

Grace’s SID Josh Neuhart, who oversees all athletic communication and website content, was awarded with the top Feature Story in the NAIA. His piece entitled “Grace Grad Pens ‘Fall to Grace’ with Dave Bliss” earned Grace’s first national contest winner. It centered on Neuhart’s college roommate Stephen Copeland and his book on Dave Bliss.

Neuhart also took home three other top-10 finishes in the NAIA’s Dr. W. Jack Bell Writing Contests. His season preview on the Lady Lancers’ softball team “Expectations High for Grace Softball”tied for fourth place in the Season Preview/Review category, and his baseball preview “Grace Baseball to Focus on the Process” was ninth in the same category. He also won fourth place in the Game Recap category for his women’s basketball article entitled “Peterson’s buzzer beater seals upset of No. 19 Foresters.”

Two webpages on won national recognition under the Best Special Event Webpage contest. Grace won second place nationally for the webpage and infographic commemorating Brooke Shell’s career hits softball record. Grace’s NCCAA Basketball Championship Central webpage placed ninth in the same category.

“While our work in the Sports Information Department at Grace has never been about awards or garnering personal attention, it is quite an honor to be recognized among our peers with these awards,” Neuhart said. “It’s a joy coming to work each day in this department. Our administration, coaching staff, student-athletes and student workers are second to none at our level, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to shine a light on the people that make Grace Athletics so special.”

Bosch Receives Second Chandler-Misener Award

June 19th, 2015

Dr. Nate Bosch, director of the Center for Lakes & Streams, was awarded the Chandler-Misener award for the most notable paper published in the Journal of Great Lake Research in 2015. Submitted papers are evaluated for originality, contribution and presentation.

Bosch’s paper, Assessing and addressing the re-eutrophication of Lake Erie: Central basin hypoxia, addressed the source of harmful algae in Lake Erie as a result of inflowing water from primarily agricultural drainage areas. The paper, co-authored by 28 scientists across the country, also offered application for the inland lakes in Kosciusko County because the Lake Erie watershed, or drainage area, is similar to the agricultural watersheds flowing into the county’s local lakes.

The paper addresses the algae growing in Lake Erie as a result of nutrients, namely phosphorus, flowing into the lake. Oxygen levels and the presence of blue-green algae toxins are issues also linked to the presence of nutrients in Lake Erie. Similarly, these issues are being studied in local lakes around the county by the Center for Lakes & Streams under Bosch’s leadership.

While Bosch was unable to attend the award banquet at the University of Vermont due to his important local research this summer in Kosciusko County, he received his award this month. Bosch stated, “It is a great honor to receive this award. This is an award that many lake researchers strive their whole career to attain.” Bosch also received this award in 2013 for his work with the study, Historical phosphorus loading to Lake Erie watersheds.”

The Center for Lakes & Streams at Grace College conducts applicable research, engages and educates residents, and collaborates with other organizations in efforts to make the lakes and streams of Kosciusko County cleaner. For more information or to support their efforts, visit

Grace College announces Van Hofwegen as next volleyball coach

June 18th, 2015

Katie Van Hofwegen - volleyball head coach for the Lady Lancers

Grace College announces that Katie Van Hofwegen will serve as the next volleyball head coach for the Lady Lancers.

Van Hofwegen comes from The University of Virginia-Wise (NCAA Div. II) where she served as the top assistant coach since 2012. She has a wide berth of volleyball experience that spans across the country.

Van Hofwegen played collegiate volleyball at Shorter University (Ga.). An accomplished defensive player, she was honored as the Southern States Athletic Conference Libero of the Year in 2010 and was a two-time All-Conference winner. She graduated as the school’s all-time leader in service aces (163) and was a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete with a 3.5 GPA. She also finished school ranked No. 2 in career digs with 1,536 and has the school record for most service aces in a single season with 66.

“We are very excited with the outcome of our coaching search. Katie Van Hofwegen has a tremendous background in volleyball and has enjoyed success both as a player and coach,” said Grace athletic director Chad Briscoe. “She is a teacher of the game and is fully committed to assisting student-athletes grow in all aspects of their life during their college experience. I look forward to watching our program grow and achieve success both on and off the court under her leadership.”

While at Virginia-Wise, Van Hofwegen assisted the school’s transition from NAIA to NCAA Div. II. She helped the program overcome a 7-25 record in 2012 to earn its best season in seven years during the 2014 campaign. She was responsible for recruiting, travel coordinating, game tape exchange and practice planning for the Cavaliers. She helped secure one of the best and largest recruiting classes in program history.

In 2011 Van Hofwegen served on the coaching staff at NCAA Div. III Randolph College (Va.), working extensively with recruiting, travel and practice scheduling. She also has multiple years of experience coaching club volleyball and staffing summer camps, including the Liberty University volleyball camp. She originally hails from Riverside, Calif., where she attended Riverside Christian.

“I’m excited to start this new chapter at Grace College,” Van Hofwegen said. “The volleyball program has a great tradition of success, and I plan to continue building on that tradition. I’m looking forward to meeting the team, sharing my faith with them, and leading them both spiritually and as volleyball players. I’m really grateful for this opportunity, and I’m ready to get started.”

Van Hofwegen takes over a volleyball program that has racked up 106 wins over the past four seasons. The Lady Lancers have advanced to three NCCAA National Championships since 2011, including two trips to the national semifinals (2011, 2014). Doug West, who served as the interim coach during the national coaching search, will remain on Grace’s staff as the top assistant under Van Hofwegen.

Sanchez honorable mention for All-American

May 19th, 2015

Following an outstanding senior campaign, Grace men’s tennis senior Daniel Sanchez was honored as an NAIA All-American.

Sanchez was one of three Crossroads League players to earn a spot on the honorable mention list for NAIA All-American. The Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, native was Grace’s No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles player all season.

He posted a sterling 9-1 mark in singles play and was also 9-1 in doubles alongside Jose Marval.

Sanchez was also honored for his academic prowess. He joined teammates Ricardo Bedon and Ethan Grove as Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes. To receive Scholar-Athlete status, a student must maintain a GPA of at least 3.5 and have reached junior or senior academic status. Grace’s three NAIA Scholar-Athletes were tied for the most in the Crossroads League.

The Lancers finished the 2015 season with a 7-3 record in the fall, including 6-2 in league play. Grace has claimed a share of the Crossroads League championship in two of the past three years under head coach Larry Schuh.


Grace’s NCCAA World Series Run Comes to End

May 14th, 2015

Pictured is Alex Shipley pitching this week in Virginia. Photo credit: Paul DeRenzo

Grace’s softball team saw its sparkling 2015 season reach a conclusion on Thursday in the 2015 NCCAA World Series.

The Lady Lancers (32-27) fell 2-1 in the seventh inning to the No. 1 seed Judson, eliminating Grace from the double-elimination tournament. Thursday’s loss marked the first time since April 3 (34 games) that Grace scored less than three runs.

The Lady Lancers enjoyed a season of superlatives under head coach Heather Johnson. Grace had its first 30-win season in 21 years and its first winning season in 18 years. The 2014 and 2015 campaigns marked the first consecutive national tournaments in program history, and Grace also tied for the program record with 19 league victories. Statistically, Grace set the record for most doubles (88) and RBIs (317) in a season.

Grace, who scored three runs in the first inning of both games on Wednesday, looked to continue that trend against Judson. The Lady Lancers loaded the bases with two walks and a single in the top of the first, but the side was retired with a strikeout.

The game remained scoreless through the first three innings. Judson finally broke through the strong pitching of Hannah Adams, using a double, a bunt and a single to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth.

Grace’s offense, which came into the game averaging over 6.0 runs/game, struggled to pick up momentum after the first inning. The Lady Lancers did not move a baserunner past first base between the second and fifth innings.

Momentum swung back to Grace’s side in the top of the sixth. Samantha Johnson and Chandler Elliott singled, and Ashley Kleinbub placed a single down the left-field line. Johnson turned the corner at third and beat the throw at home to tie the game at 1-1. The Lady Lancers still had runners on second and third with one out, but Grace was unable to plate the go-ahead run with two strikeouts.

The Eagles threatened to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth, loading the bases with two outs. But Alex Shipley, who came in as a relief pitcher in the fifth inning, got the final batter to ground out to Brittany Turner.

Grace was poised to pull ahead in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with two singles and a walk. But Elliott grounded out to third to preserve the 1-1 tie. The Eagles made the Lady Lancers pay in the bottom of the seventh, using three straight hits to win the game in walkoff fashion, 2-1.

Elliott and Johnson each batted 2-for-4, and Knight was 1-for-2 with two walks. Adams pitched four strong innings to start the game and allowed four hits and one run, and Shipley tossed the final innings in relief.

Brooke Shell graduates as the program’s most prolific offensive player. She leaves Grace as the career leader in hits, runs, batting average, triples and stolen bases.

Shell set the single-season record in 2015 for most runs scored with 65, and Elliott tied the single-season mark with 56 RBIs.

Grace advances to second day of NCCAA World Series

May 14th, 2015

Despite falling into the loser’s bracket of the 2015 NCCAA World Series, Grace’s softball team stayed alive to reach day two of the tournament.

After narrowly losing 7-6 to No. 4 Oklahoma Christian in the opening round on Wednesday, the Lady Lancers (32-26) won an elimination game 7-5 against Central Baptist in the nightcap.

Grace advances to play No. 1 Judson at noon on Thursday after the top-seeded Eagles were bounced in the opening round. As long as Grace wins, the Lady Lancers will play again at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Thursday.

The opening game could not have started better for Grace. Brooke Shell reached second base on the first at-bat, and Samantha Johnson laced a triple to drive in the game’s first run. Ashley Kleinbub then stepped up and belted a two-run home run, propelling Grace to an early 3-0 lead.

Oklahoma Christian threatened to respond in the bottom of the inning with runners on second and third and nobody out. But Chandler Elliott pitched her way out of a jam with two pop outs and a strikeout.

The Eagles (30-19) made good on their chances in the second inning, scoring four to take a one-run lead. OCU use a two-run homer of its own to spark its rally. The Eagles tacked on another run in the third to lead 5-3.

In the top of the fourth, Hannah Herbster and Brittany Melzoni led off the inning with singles. Herbster came home to score off the bat of Morgan Hutcheson. Clarissa Knight then drilled a two-out, two-run double up the middle to put Grace back on top 6-5.

Grace’s lead was short-lived, however, as the Eagles struck back with two in the bottom of the fourth. After an offensive showcase in the first four innings, defense took over down the stretch. Neither side could produce another run over the final three innings as OCU held on to win 7-6.

Herbster and Melzoni each batted 2-for-3 with a run scored. Kleinbub hit 1-for-3 with a run and two RBIs, and Hutcheson had a run and an RBI as well.

In the second game of the day, Grace staved off elimination with a 7-5 win over Central Baptist.

The Lady Lancers repeated their first inning from the opening game with a three-run outburst. Shell and Johnson hit safely to start the inning, and Knight drove them both home with a single. Later in the inning, Knight scored off the bat of Chelsea Whitesell.

The Mustangs (22-17) closed the gap to 3-2 in the top of the second, but Grace pounded out four more runs in the bottom of the second to take a commanding 7-2 lead. Brittany Melzoni blasted a solo home run, Johnson executed a perfect squeeze bunt to score Hutcheson, and Shell and Johnson later plated in the inning.

CBC fought back to within 7-5 with a three-run sixth inning, but that would prove to be the high point of the game for the Mustangs. Shipley shut down CBC in the seventh inning with a three-up, three-down performance to record the save.

Johnson hit 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, and Shell was 1-for-2 with two runs. Knight drove in two runs and scored once.

Grace Ready to Tackle NCCAA World Series

May 11th, 2015

The stage has been set for Grace’s softball team at the 2015 NCCAA World Series.

The Lady Lancers received the No. 5 seed in the 10-team tournament. Grace opens tournament play on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. against No. 4 Oklahoma Christian, an NCAA Div. II school with a record of 28-19.

With a win Grace would advance to Thursday and the semifinals of the winner’s bracket in the double elimination tournament. A loss means Grace would play again on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the loser’s bracket.

The complete tournament field is as follows: No. 1 Judson (Ill.), No. 2 Simpson (Calif.), No. 3 Lee (Tenn.), No. 4 Oklahoma Christian, No. 5 Grace, No. 6 Southern Wesleyan (S.C.), No. 7 Central Baptist (Ark.), No. 8 Mississippi College, No. 9 Oklahoma Wesleyan, No. 10 Cedarville (Ohio).

Grace finished fourth in last year’s tournament, advancing to the final day of competition. The World Series is held at the Botetourt Sports Complex.

Participating teams will perform a community service project in Botetourt County on Tuesday before enjoying the national tournament banquet on Tuesday evening.

Grace College and Seminary Holds 2015 Commencement Ceremony

May 7th, 2015

As the 2014-2015 school year draws to a close, Grace College and Seminary will be holding a commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 9 at 9 a.m. at the Ronald and Barbara Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center. The ceremony will include an invocation by Rev. Jeffrey A. Patton, lead pastor at the Grace Brethren Church in Norwalk, California; an institutional welcome by William J. Katip, president at Grace College; and a benediction by John F. Carini, a physician in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. A brass ensemble, directed by Eric Criss, will be performing at the commencement services, as well as a the Lancer Chorus, directed by Thomas Hall.

This year, Grace asked the senior class to select a faculty member to appear as a special guest speaker during the commencement ceremonies. The students selected Roger Stichter, accounting and finance professor at Grace.

For the 2015 Commencement, Dr. Katip has chosen Dr. Paulette Sauders, the faculty member who has served Grace the longest, to carry the ceremonial mace. Carrying the mace is a great honor and is traditionally borne by someone who has been singled out for tribute.

During the ceremony, Grace will also be honoring Dr. Paulette Sauders for 50 years of service at Grace as a professor of English and journalism. Only three others have reached this esteemed milestone at Grace (Dr. Homer Kent, Jr., Ron Henry and R. Wayne Snider), but Sauders is the first faculty member to accomplish this while still actively teaching full-time. In addition to serving as a faculty member in the Languages, Literature and Communication Department (where she’s taught 17 different courses), Sauders taught in the Grace prison program for 16 years and served as a leader for Women of Grace for 40 years. Sauders has been the chair of the department since 2003 and for four decades has served as an advisor to the school newspaper, “The Sounding Board.”

With its new “Measure of Grace” initiative, underway this year, Grace is working to keep its undergraduate degrees affordable and incentivize student persistence and completion. Effective this coming fall of 2015, Grace will reduce the cost of tuition by nine percent for traditional students on the main campus. In addition, once a student enrolls, his or her tuition will never be raised; instead, each consecutive year students attends Grace, they will receive an additional $500 off their tuition. This can amount to an additional $3,000 savings. This is part of Grace’s continuing commitment to pursuing excellence and affordability for more and more students.

Grace duo sweeps NCCAA Player of Week awards

May 6th, 2015

Pitcher of the week, Alex Shipley.

Player of the week, Chandler Elliott.

Alex Shipley and Chandler Elliott gave Grace’s softball team a sweep from the NCCAA for Player of the Week awards.

Shipley was named the NCCAA Pitcher of the Week, and Elliott was the Player of the Week following the Lady Lancers’ run in the Crossroads League Tournament.

Shipley impressed from the mound, posting a 1.47 ERA in three postseason games. Her highlight of the week was throwing a complete-game 9-inning victory over No. 25 Marian to eliminate the Knights from the league tournament. Marian came into the game ranked No. 5 in the nation in hits and team batting average, but Shipley handcuffed Marian to eight hits in nine innings, striking out six batters in the process. She also threw two scoreless outings in relief against St. Francis and Taylor (RV-NAIA).

Elliott was an offensive machine last week, hitting .565 with 13 hits in 6 games. She scored five runs, doubled twice and homered once. She played four games against the top three teams in the league (IWU, Marian, Taylor) and hit 11-for-14 against those teams. Overall for the week, she finished with a slugging percentage of .783 with an on-base percentage of .583.

Grace will continue its season next week at the 2015 NCCAA World Series. The Lady Lancers will making their second-straight trip to the national tournament after finishing fourth last year. Grace is also enjoying its first 30-win season in 21 years.

Grace Softball Earns Place at NCCAA World Series

May 5th, 2015

Pictured is Grace's softball team shortly after punching its ticket to the 2015 NCCAA World Series

For the second time in two years, Grace’s softball team beat Cedarville to secure a berth to the NCCAA World Series.

The Lady Lancers (31-25) knocked off the host Yellow Jackets (33-24) in the NCCAA Midwest Regional Tournament by the score of 3-2, earning a repeat trip to Botetourt, Va., for the World Series. It marks the first time in program history that Grace has reached consecutive national tournaments.

Ashley Kleinbub and Clarissa Knight teamed up to create the heroic moment in extra innings for Grace. With the score knotted at 2-2, Knight led off the bottom of the eighth with a single. She stole second base and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Two batters later, Kleinbub laced the game-winning single to right field to score Knight and send the Lady Lancers into a state of euphoria.

“I think reaching the NCCAA World Series two years in a row legitimizes the direction this program is going. The girls were on fire yesterday, and today they were determined to do what was needed to win,” said Grace head coach Heather Johnson. “Our freshmen have really grown up which helps us out a lot. Brittany [Turner] won the game for us against Marian, and Ashley [Kleinbub] did it today. I couldn’t be prouder of this group.”

It took Grace six innings to get on the scoreboard against Cedarville. By that point, Cedarville had crept ahead 2-0 thanks to a run in the second and fifth innings.

The Lady Lancers were unable to score in a bases-loaded situation in the fifth, but Grace made good on its runners in the sixth. A sacrifice fly from Kati Gregory brought in Knight for Grace’s first run in the sixth. Hannah Herbster was up next with two outs, and the freshman stepped up with an RBI single to score Chandler Elliott and tie the game.

Neither team could score the go-ahead run in the seventh, setting the stage for Kleinbub’s walkoff winner in the eighth.

Elliott went the distance from the mound, tossing a five-hitter in eight innings. She walked just one batter in her 15th complete game of the season.

Both sides finished with five hits in a defensive clash.

“I’m really proud of our seniors [Brooke Shell and Chelsea Whitesell]. They get a lot of credit for pushing this team to a different level, and now they get to end their careers at a national tournament,” Johnson said. “A couple days of rest will be great for us to wrap up school and then just focus on playing softball.”

The bracket and tournament field for the 2015 NCCAA World Series will be released on Sunday. Grace placed fourth in last year’s tournament.