Archive for the ‘Feature Stories’ Category

Five School Records Crumble at CL Championships

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Grace’s track and field teams had one of its strongest showings of the season at the 2014 Crossroads League Championships.

The Lancers broke or tied five school records and had one runner (Lance Taylor) qualify for NAIA Nationals. The meet was hosted by Marian University.

“We had an awesome weekend with school records falling and numerous season and personal bests. I’m very proud of how the ladies competed. The guys had a great weekend and even exceeded my expectations in some areas,” said Grace head coach Jeff Raymond. “Lance [Taylor] qualifying for NAIA in the 400 was a huge accomplishment, and Donovan just missed the qualifying mark in the 800. He will hopefully get it next week.”

Lance Taylor made his mark in the 400-meter race, placing second in a school-record time of 48.21 seconds. His finish met the NAIA national qualifying standard.

The men’s team had three other All-League finishers (top-three finishes are All-League). Donovan Graham had a personal-best finish in the 800 at 1:54.32 for second place, and Drew Perrin was third in the triple jump at 42-feet-4.

The men’s 4×400 relay team of Taylor, Graham, KeJuan Leek and Matt Lee took third place in the CL meet at 4:21.93.

Micah Pollard had a part in two school records. She tied the 100-meter school mark in a time of 12.45 during the preliminary race, going on to finish third in the 100. Pollard broke Grace’s record in the 200, crossing the finish line in 25.52 for third place. Both marks earned All-League recognition.

Sabrina Whitaker earned All-CL honors in the high jump, clearing 5-feet-2.5 for second place.

Jo Boren placed fourth in the 400 with a new school-record time of 59.23. She also placed fifth in the 200 with a personal-record time of 25.89.

The 4×800 relay squad of Allison Zylstra, Jenna McClellan, Katelyn McCullough and Rachel Fehring set Grace’s fifth school record of the meet in 9:49.51.

McCullough had a busy weekend, also placing fifth in 100 hurdles (16.35), seventh in the 400 hurdles (1:08.29) and ran on the fifth-place 4×100 relay and fourth-place 4×400 relay. Others in 4×100 were Boren, Erin Jones and Pollard. The 4×400 included Jones, Alicia Hertzler and Boren.

Other strong finishes for the Lancers included Brandon Smith’s fifth place in the 3000 steeplechase, Heather House’s sixth place in the 100 hurdles, and Jesse Feitz’s seventh place in the javelin. Erin McPherson finished fifth for the shot put and eighth in the hammer throw. The men’s 4×800 (Jonathan Rex, Taylor, Smith, Graham) and the 4×100 (Evan Kilgore, Leek, Niko Read, Ben Hutton) squads each placed sixth.

The Lancers’ next meet is the NCCAA National Championships. Grace will have 17 athletes competing in the meet in Rome, Ga.

Walk-off Thriller Seals Sweep of IWU

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Pictured is Olivia Winget being congratulated after a home run on Saturday against Indiana Wesleyan

Senior Olivia Winget starred on Senior Day for Grace’s softball team on Saturday, and freshman Samantha Johnson’s walk-off single in the ninth inning secured the Lady Lancers a sweep of Indiana Wesleyan.

Winget homered twice to propel the Lady Lancers (23-25; 19-13 CL) to 8-7 and 3-2 victories over IWU at Miller Field.

The Wildcats (28-22; 16-16 CL), sparked by a first-inning home run, jumped ahead 3-0 early in the opening game. Grace had the answer in the bottom of the third, however. After Brooke Shell and Tiffany Featherston led off the inning with singles, Winget parked a game-tying, three-run home run over the center field fence.

Grace added three more runs in the fourth. Clarissa Knight provided a clutch two-out, two-run single, and Winget had another RBI single.

Indiana Wesleyan made a late rally, scoring three runs in the top of the seventh to trail by one. Allison Franklin ended the Wildcats’ threat on the mound, however, coming in to record the final three outs of the game.

Winget finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs, Brittany Melzoni and Knight notched three hits apiece, and Shell and Featherston each scored twice.

In the second game, superb pitching from Hannah Adams and timely hitting by Winget and Johnson lifted Grace to a 3-2 extra-innings win.

Shell opened the scoring in the third inning with a sacrifice fly ball to plate Paige Petrone. The Wildcats countered with runs in the fourth and fifth inning to claim a 2-1 advantage.

In the bottom of the sixth, Winget blasted her second home run of the day to tie the game. In the top of the seventh, Featherston and Johnson made a pair of fantastic defensive plays in the outfield to keep the score tied.

The game was not decided until the bottom of the ninth as the daylight was in its final minutes. Melzoni doubled down the left field line, and Johnson drove her in with a game-winning, walk-off single to right field.

Adams tossed all nine innings from the mound, allowing four scattered hits and two runs. She struck out 10 batters.

Johnson had three hits in the win, and Winget notched two hits.

The Lady Lancers’ next games will take place in the Crossroads League Tournament, starting April 30.

Lancers Sweep Rival Bethel

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Pictured are Lancers CJ Swartz (9) and Brook Vosler (2) congratulating Logan Grigsby (13) during Grace's first-game win over Bethel

Grace’s baseball team all but assured itself a place in the Crossroads League Tournament with a 7-5, 8-5 sweep of Bethel at Miller Field on Thursday.

The Lancers (12-25; 11-18 CL) moved 2.5 games clear of the Pilots (11-32; 9-21 CL) for the eighth spot in the CL standings with just four games remaining in the regular season. The top eight teams in the league advance to the postseason tourney.

The Lancers got on the scoreboard quickly in the opening game, loading the bases and scoring two runs. CJ Swartz singled in Aaron Christenberry, and Brook Vosler’s sacrifice fly allowed Jacob Bloom to slide across home plate.

Grace added two more runs in the second off a solo home run by Frank Rocchio and an RBI double by Bloom.

After both teams scored a run in the third, Grace had a 5-1 lead entering the fifth. The Pilots battled back to tie the game at 5-5 with a four-run spurt.

Grace won the game in the bottom of the sixth with a two-out rally. After the Lancers’ first two batters were retired, Tyler Weber and Christenberry hit back-to-back singles. Bloom was walked to load the bases, and Joey Hickerson delivered a two-run single to put Grace ahead for good.

Dellos Schabel took care of the rest on the mound, picking up his third save of the season.

Bloom finished 2-for-2 from the plate, and Christenberry was 2-for-3. Hickerson and Swartz were 2-for-4.

In the second game, Bethel scored three runs over the first two innings to take an early lead. But Grace countered with four runs in the third to move ahead. Christenberry hit an RBI single, and Hickerson followed up two batters later with a three-run home run over the centerfield fence.

Grace’s defense came up big in the top of the fifth, eliminating a bases-loaded threat with a double play from Paul Blankley, Vosler and Steven Hovermale. In the bottom of the fifth, Christenberry singled in Blankley to increase the Lancers’ lead to 5-3.

The Pilots knotted the game in the sixth inning, scoring two runs with two outs against them. The Lancers had the answer, however, with three runs on five hits. With a runner on third, head coach Bill Barr called for a squeeze bunt. Blankley laid down the bunt to plate Logan Grigsby for the go-ahead run. Vosler and Christenberry then provided insurance runs with RBI singles.

Jason Stevens completed the game from the mound for Grace, picking up the save. Christenberry finished 3-for-4 with three runs driven in, and Vosler was 2-for-2. Bloom notched two hits and had a career-high three stolen bases.

The Lancers conclude the regular season with a series against Huntington. Grace hosts Huntington on Saturday 1 p.m. for Senior Day and will travel to the Foresters on Tuesday.

Grace Sweeps Knights to Reach 20 Wins

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Pictured is Alex Shipley (right) being congratulated by Brooke Shell earlier in the season

Grace’s softball team reached 20 wins for the first time in nearly two decades with a sweep of Marian University on Tuesday.

The Lady Lancers (20-24; 16-12 Crossroads League) defeated Marian 13-8 and 8-5 to secure the season sweep of the Knights (21-19; 15-15 CL). With two series remaining in the regular season, Grace sits in sole possession of fourth place in the CL standings, one game out of second place.

The last time Grace won 20 games in a season was in 1997. The Lady Lancers came close last spring with 19 wins.

Clarissa Knight and Hannah Adams powered Grace’s offense in the opener. Knight was 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs, and Adams was 3-for-4 with two runs and four RBIs.

Grace jumped ahead 6-0 after three innings. Knight drove in two runs in the opening inning with a single, and Alex Shipley repeated Knight’s effort in the third inning.

The Lady Lancers increased their cushion to 11-3 with a five-run outburst in the sixth. Knight, Jordan McKinley and Adams each drove in a run during the inning, and Chelsea Whitesell brought in two more runs with a double. Both teams scored in the seventh inning, but Grace had already done its damage to win by five.

Brooke Shell stole three bases and scored twice from the leadoff position, and Tiffany Featherston scored three times. Amanda Bowman was Grace’s most effective pitcher with two scoreless innings on the mound.

Grace’s offense continued its scorching pace with eight runs on 12 hits in the second game. Knight’s bat continued to stay hot with a 3-for-3 performance.

The Lady Lancers scored half of their runs in the third inning. Olivia Winget, Adams and Shipley drove in runs during Grace’s four-run spree. Grace continued to tack on runs, eventually taking an 8-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth.

Marian made its charge in the bottom of the sixth, plating four runs to cut Grace’s cushion to three. But Shipley kept Marian off the scoreboard from the mound in the seventh to preserve the 8-5 victory.

Winget finished 2-for-2 in the game with two runs and two RBIs, Shell scored two runs, and Brittany Melzoni was 2-for-4 with a solo home run. Adams started on the mound, surrendering one run on three hits over five innings.

The Lady Lancers conclude the regular season at home on Friday against Spring Arbor and on Saturday against Indiana Wesleyan.

Golfers Take Fourth at Tourney

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Grace’s golf team had one of its strongest tournaments of the spring on Monday at the Steven Tyler Invitational. The Lancers finished fourth out of 13 teams.

Trey Stoll placed second for the second time this spring with a round of 76, one stroke behind the overall medalist Collin Breit (75) of Hope College. Caleb Rovenstine was just behind Stoll, firing a 77 for third place.

Taylor Fanning produced an 81, and Taylor Breeden and Kyle Condon rounded out the scoring with identical rounds of 86. The tournament was hosted by Kalamazoo College at The Moors Golf Club.

Zachary Allyn, playing as an individual in the tournament, had Grace’s third-best round at 80. Hope College won the team title with a 315, five strokes better than Grace’s 320.

Monday’s tournament was Grace’s final tune-up before the Crossroads League Championships on April 28-29 held at Harbour Trees Golf Club in Noblesville.

Grace Track Wins Three CL Weekly Awards

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Drew Perrin, Erin McPherson and Jo Boren made it a banner week for Grace’s track and field teams as all three Lancers won Crossroads League Athlete of the Week awards.

The Lancers nearly swept the CL’s weekly awards for track and field, winning three of the four awards.

Sophomore Jo Boren was the CL’s Female Track Athlete of the Week after winning an event and setting a school record in another. She took the 200-meter title at the Spartan Classic over 20 competitors at 26.72 seconds before joining forces on the 4x100m relay team for a school-record finish of 49.34. Other members of the 4×100 squad included Katelyn McCullough, Erin Jones and Micah Pollard.

Senior Erin McPherson was the CL’s Female Field Athlete of the Week after taking first place in the shot put and second in the hammer. She launched the shot put 11.24 meters to win the event and placed second in the hammer at 39.46m.

Sophomore Drew Perrin was the CL’s Male Field Athlete of the Week. He won the triple jump over nine competitors with an NCCAA-qualifying mark of 41-feet-7.

The Lancers climax the season at the Crossroads League Championships on Friday and Saturday at Marian University.

Adams’s One-hitter Blanks Mt. Vernon in League Play

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Pictured is freshman pitcher Hannah Adams earlier in the year for Grace

A complete game one-hitter from freshman pitcher Hannah Adams highlighted Grace’s softball team’s 4-0 victory over Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Friday.

The Lady Lancers (17-23; 13-11 Crossroads League) split with the Cougars at Miller Field, falling 8-2 in the opener.

During the opening game of the doubleheader, Mt. Vernon struck first with a solo home run in the second inning. Grace threatened to counter in the bottom of the inning with a runner on third, but the Lady Lancers were unable to even the score. The Cougars added an unearned run in the third and three more in the fourth to move ahead, 5-0.

Grace showed signs of life in the fifth inning with two runs on four hits. Morgan Cody singled, Brittany Melzoni doubled, and Samantha Johnson bunted for a hit to load the bases. Brooke Shell then drove in two runs with a base hit. After loading the bases again with a walk, Grace was unable to capitalize and had to settle for the 5-2 deficit.

The Cougars tacked on three more runs for insurance in the top of the seventh, but the Lady Lancers were unable to chop into Mt. Vernon’s cushion in their final at-bats.

Johnson was 2-for-3 with a stolen base, and Shell drove in two runs with a stolen base.

In the second game, Grace opened up the scoring in the second inning. Alex Shipley laced a deep double to centerfield to plate Clarissa Knight. Tiffany Featherston singlehandedly doubled Grace’s lead with a triple down the right-field line. She came around to score on a throwing error.

Olivia Winget belted a solo home run in the fourth, and Brooke Shell scored in the fifth. After Shell reached base, she stole second and third base and forced an overthrow by Mt. Vernon Nazarene at third to scamper home.

Hannah Adams had the Cougars’ bats in knots throughout the second game. She kept Mt. Vernon Nazarene scoreless for all seven innings and allowed just three runners to reach base – one on a hit, one on a hit batsman and one via a fielding error. The freshman hurler needed just 69 pitches in the complete-game effort from the mound, striking out two batters in the process.

Shipley finished 2-for-2 from the plate, and Johnson was 1-for-2.

The Lady Lancers continue league play at Miller Field on Monday against Bethel at 3 p.m. Next week is Grace’s final week of the regular season.

Yeh Accepts Coaching Job at Truett-McConnell

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Longtime men’s basketball assistant coach Jon Yeh has accepted a head basketball coaching position at Truett-McConnell College (Ga.).

Yeh has been on the sidelines for some of the Lancers’ finest seasons in program history, including this year’s NCCAA Division I National Runners-Up finish. He has coached and recruited five Lancers who have produced 11 All-American or honorable mention All-American awards from the NAIA.

“I want to express my gratitude to Coach Kessler, our coaching staff and our administration for the opportunity to work alongside them these last five years. I’m especially grateful to our players and support staff,” Yeh said. “It’s their hard work and determination that has built Grace into a nationally-competitive and respected program. I’m really proud of the way our men have competed and responded to the challenges that arise each season. The on-court success has been phenomenal, but I’m even more joyful to see the growth in their personal lives.”

Yeh has been with the Lancers for 12 seasons, including a stint from 1999-2006. During Yeh’s second tenure, Grace has advanced to five straight national tournaments. Grace won its first league tournament championship in 2012 and was ranked as high as No. 4 in the NAIA Div. II Top 25 Coaches’ Poll during the 2011-12 season.

“My family and I will definitely miss the support of Grace fans and students at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center,” Yeh continued. “Our challenge will be to try to replicate the success we’ve had at Grace both on and off the court in our new home at Truett-McConnell. We’re very excited for the opportunity!”

Yeh has been Grace’s defensive coordinator since 2010-11, helping the Lancers to top 25 defensive statistical rankings throughout the past four seasons.

“Jon is one of those special assistants who has his fingerprints all over the success of our program. His help in all aspects of the game has been invaluable throughout the years,” said Grace men’s basketball coach Jim Kessler. “He is more than ready to be a head coach, and he has a chance to build up a program down there. I think it’s a great fit, and I know he’ll be an excellent coach while also caring for his players.”

Yeh will be taking over a Truett-McConnell program that finished 4-25 this season.

“We appreciate Jon’s Christian commitment to Grace College and his tremendous work with our student-athletes and advancement office,” said Grace Director of Athletics Chad Briscoe. “We are excited for Jon and his family and wish him all the best. We know he will bring great success to Truett-McConnell.”

School Record Falls at Manchester Meet

Friday, April 18th, 2014

In Grace’s final tune-up meet before the Crossroads League Championships next week, Grace’s track and field teams won six events and set a school record at the Spartan Invitational on Friday.

Katelyn McCullough, Jo Boren, Erin Jones and Micah Pollard ran the fastest 4×100-meter relay in school history, crossing the finish line in 49.34 seconds. Pollard went on to win the 400 race at 1:00.44, and Boren took the 200 title 26.72.

Erin McPherson took first place in the shot put and second place in the hammer, and Heather House was first in the 400 hurdles in a personal-best time of 1:09.77.

Donovan Graham won the 400 race, and Drew Perrin won the triple jump in an NCCAA-qualifying mark of 41-feet-7. Niko Read      had his best mark in the triple jump as well.

Brandon Smith finished second in the 3000 steeplechase, Jenna McClellan was second in the 1500, and Macallister Seitz (discus) and Caleb Sanders (javelin) placed third in their respective events.

“This meet was a great tune-up prior to our conference championships next weekend,” said Grace head coach Jeff Raymond. “There were several PR’s set and many season-bests, which is what you want to see at this time of year.”

The Lancers’ Crossroads League Championships will be held at Marian University.

Softball Splits a High-Powered Doubleheader

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Grace’s softball team took part in an offensive showdown on Thursday with Huntington University as the teams combined for 36 runs in two games.

The Lady Lancers (16-22; 12-10 Crossroads League) won 11-8 in a 12-inning thriller in the opening game before the Foresters rallied to take the second game, 10-7.

Grace claimed a 7-0 lead in the opener after a five-run outburst in the third inning. Hannah Adams hit a two-run homer in the second, and Chelsea Whitesell doubled to score two runs in the third.

The Foresters (20-15; 13-9 CL) slowly chipped away at Grace’s cushion. Huntington scored twice in the third and fifth innings and once in the sixth. The Foresters finally tied the score in the seventh inning with a two-out triple that scored two runs to tie the game at 7-7.

The first four extra innings came up empty for both sides, although each team had strong chances to score. Grace finally broke the 7-7 deadlock in a big way during the 12th inning. Olivia Winget lofted a two-run homer to left field to score Alex Shipley. Adams, Tiffany Featherston and Brittany Melzoni then doubled to plate two more runs.

Huntington added one more run in the bottom of the inning, but the Foresters were unable to erase Grace’s cushion. Adams finished 4-for-6 with three runs and three RBIs, Winget was 3-for-5 with three runs scored, and Featherston had three hits and two runs.

In the second game, Huntington erupted for 10 runs on 17 hits. While Grace scored seven runs on 11 hits, the Lady Lancers also committed four fielding errors to allow three unearned runs to plate.

The Lady Lancers led 6-1 after their half of the third inning, but the Foresters dominated the later stages of the game to win by three.

Brooke Shell starred at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two stolen bases and two runs. Melzoni and Clarissa Knight scored twice, and reigning NCCAA National Player of the Week Samantha Johnson batted 2-for-4.

Grace concludes the week on Friday with a home series against Mt. Vernon Nazarene. First pitch at Miller Field is set for noon.