Grace’s softball team opened up Miller Field for the first time in 2015 with a doubleheader against Bethel on Wednesday.
The Lady Lancers (11-9, 4-3 Crossroads League) split with Bethel, losing the first game 5-2 before rebounding for an 11-7 win in the day’s finale.
In the opening game, the Lady Lancers struggled defensively with four fielding errors. The Lady Pilots (6-9, 2-5 CL) capitalized by scoring all five of their runs in the first two innings to take a commanding 5-0 lead.
Grace’s bats struggled for the first half of the game. Morgan Hutcheson notched the only two hits for Grace over the first five innings. The Lady Lancers eventually found a spark offensively in the sixth, scoring two runs off two hits. Kati Gregory launched a two-out single to deep right-center field, bringing in freshmen Chandler Elliott and Ashley Kleinbub.
Grace put a runner in scoring position with Samantha Johnson at second base in the seventh, but the final two batters were retired to stop any potential comeback.
Hutcheson was 2-for-4 with a double, and Gregory was 1-for-2 with two RBIs. Alex Shipley tossed three scoreless innings of relief, limiting the Lady Pilots to one hit with three strikeouts.
The second game started much more positively for the Lady Lancers. Grace jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning thanks to runs from Brooke Shell, Elliott and Kleinbub. Gregory doubled with two outs to score the final two runs of the inning.
The second inning was explosive for Grace. The Lady Lancers started the inning with six consecutive singles from Brittany Melzoni, Samantha Johnson, Shell, Hutcheson, Clarissa Knight and Elliott. Grace tacked on four more runs in the inning.
Bethel pulled one run back with a solo homer and added two more in the fourth to make the score 7-3, but the Lady Lancers blew open the contest in the sixth. With two outs in the top of the sixth, Knight came up with a stand-up triple to deep right-center field, scoring two runs. Elliott followed that up with a single to plate Knight and put Grace ahead 11-3.
The Lady Pilots made things interesting in their final at-bats, launching a grand slam to slice Grace’s lead down to four. But Allison Franklin got the next three batters out to end the game, striking out two in the inning.
Shell was a sizzling 4-for-4 with three runs and a stolen base. Elliott was 3-for-4 with four RBIs, Melzoni hit 2-for-3 with two runs, and Hutcheson batted 2-for-4 with two runs.
The Lady Lancers are scheduled for two more home doubleheaders this week, including versus Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Friday at 5 p.m. and against Huntington on Saturday at 1 p.m.