Grace Sweeps Series with No. 19 Foresters

February 16th, 2015

Grace’s women’s basketball team got the better of No. 19 Huntington for the second time this season, upsetting the Foresters 60-54 on the road.

The Lady Lancers (14-14, 7-9 Crossroads League) broke out of a three-game shooting slump, connecting on 48 percent of their field goals in the win.

Chloe Pridgen was a spark off the bench, leading Grace with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting in just 12 minutes of play, and Gabby Bryant tallied 10 points with a pair of 3-pointers.

Grace led by as many as eight in the first half and also trailed by as many as eight in the second half. But late defensive stands lifted Grace to the season sweep of the Foresters.

The first half saw a series of small runs by each team in a tightly contested period. With the score knotted at 13-13, Grace made a small run to gain separation. Over a four-minute span, Grace used a 10-2 spurt to open up a 23-15 lead with three minute left in the half. Five players scored during the run.

Grace used that momentum to go into halftime ahead 25-20. The Foresters (19-7, 10-6 CL) were held to 22 percent shooting in the opening half, making 6-of-27 from the floor and 1-of-10 on 3-pointers.

The Lady Lancers led by six early in the second half, but the Foresters were about to find their rhythm. Huntington ripped off a 20-6 charge to turn a six-point deficit into a 42-34 lead. Huntington scored its 20 points in just eight minutes.

Grace had a game-changing run of its own, however. The Lady Lancers battled back thanks to key production from Chloe Pridgen and Heather House, cutting Huntington’s lead to 47-46 with less than seven minutes to play. House then put Grace on top by one with a spinning floater in the lane a minute later.

The game remained a nailbiter until the final buzzer. A pair of free throws from Allison Kauffman put Grace ahead 53-52 with2:38 on the clock. After a defensive stop, Micah Pollard scored in the lane to put Grace ahead by three.

Huntington turned the ball over on its next possession, and Sarah Feasby made them pay with a basket as Grace led 57-52 with 1:21 remaining. The Foresters hit two free throws to trim Grace’s cushion to three, but Bryant provided the dagger with a 3-pointer on Grace’s next play to effectively end any thoughts of a comeback.

Grace’s defense held Huntington without a made field goal for the final 3:10 of the game, helping the Lady Lancers end the game on a 9-2 run.

The Lady Lancers, who struggled mightily with their shot the last three games, shot 48 percent in both halves. Grace also held Huntington to 32 percent shooting, including 18 percent from beyond the arc.

Kauffman and Kelsie Peterson notched nine points apiece, and Pollard added five points and four assists.

The Lady Lancers wrapped up a six-game road stretch with the win over Huntington. Grace will end the regular season with two home games next week. Grace hosts Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Bethel on Feb. 21 at 1 p.m. in a women’s/men’s doubleheader at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.

Grace Routs Huntington, Moves into Third

February 16th, 2015

Pictured is player Chad Hoffer.

Pictured is Logan Irwin.

The last time Grace’s men’s basketball and Huntington played each other, it took late heroics to knock off the Foresters.

There was much less drama on Saturday. The 22nd-ranked Lancers (21-7, 11-5 Crossroads League) used a dominant interior game and balanced scoring to cruise by Huntington 80-63 at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.

All five starters for Grace scored in double figures, and the Foresters (14-14, 4-12 CL) were outrebounded by 26.

The win moves Grace into a tie for third place in the league standings with Bethel after the Pilots’ loss on Saturday.

Grace’s offense came out firing in the opening half, ripping off 43 points on 50 percent shooting. The Lancers drilled a trio of 3-pointers over the first six minutes of play. Grace led 19-16 after eight minutes, and the Lancers used an 18-4 run to go on top 37-20. At halftime, Grace held a 43-27 advantage.

The Foresters’ lack of size was exploited in the half as Grace outrebounded Huntington 23-6 in rebounds. Huntington’s starting center Alec Peterson picked up his third foul of the period in less than five minutes of action, allowing Grace to dominate the glass. Grace had 18 second-chance points on 13 offensive rebounds over the first 20 minutes.

In the second half, Grace never led by fewer than 14 points and gradually built up a 24-point lead. The Lancers substituted liberally over the final five minutes. Overall, 16 players saw time on the court for the Lancers and 10 players got in the scoring column.

Kyle Fillman led Grace in scoring with 14 points and eight rebounds. Brandon Vanderhegghen had 13 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists, and Dennis Williams finished with 12 points, 9 boards and 2 blocked shots.

Niko Read tallied 11 points with three treys, and Logan Irwin produced 10 points, 4 assists and 3 boards. Chad Hoffer notched 6 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals, and Erik Bowen chipped in four points and four boards.

Grace made 48 percent of its field goals for the game compared to 40 percent for Huntington. Grace also held a 46-20 advantage in rebounding.

The regular season will conclude next week. Grace will play at Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Tuesday before ending the season with a home doubleheader against archrival Bethel on Saturday.

Grace Baseball to Focus on the Process in 2015

February 13th, 2015

The 2015 season will be as much about the journey as the destination for Grace’s baseball team.

The process of building a championship contender under head coach Bill Barr took another step last spring. The Lancers seemed to peak late in the season, winning 12 games in the Crossroads League season. Grace also qualified for the Crossroads League Tournament for the first time in recent memory.

But becoming a nationally recognized program doesn’t happen overnight. It happens one practice at a time and one pitch at a time, according to Barr. He hopes the 2015 Lancers will be defined by hard work, consistency and a resolution to overcome adversity.

“This is the most focused team I’ve had. They’ve been very coachable, and they work hard. I’m hoping we can play as a team and that we focus on doing the little things really well,” Barr said. “If we follow the process of playing Grace Baseball and get our focus off the wins and losses, we will have a successful season. If we are consistent each day with our approach to practice and games, it will lead us to our ultimate objective which is winning baseball games.”

Grace won’t rely on one or two players this season with a balanced lineup. However, the Lancers will need to replace the run production from graduated senior Jacob Bloom, who finished his sterling Lancer career ranked in the top 10 in seven offensive categories.

Barr believes Grace will be a hard team to scout thanks to its steady contribution from 1-9 in the batting order. “We don’t have those one or two guys to focus on and pitch around in our lineup,” he commented. Warsaw grad Aaron Christenberry returns the biggest bat to Grace’s lineup. He had eight extra-base hits and 13 RBIs as a freshman in 2014.

On the mound, Grace boasts an impressive arsenal of pitching talent. Barr has the luxury of being able to start a number of Lancers this spring, including returners Tim Weber, Austin Green, Joe Dougherty, Logan Grigsby, CJ Swartz and Jason Stevens as well as Goshen College transfer Alex Mosbarger. Each pitcher brings a unique blend of speed, control and movement that should make opposing hitters think twice at the plate.

Green and Weber each tossed over 30 innings last year, and Swartz posted a 3.57 ERA against Crossroads League opponents.

“We’re deeper than we’ve been in the past. We have arms in our bullpen that can spot start and do a good job in relief,” Barr said. “Everyone has different games based on how they throw, and I think we can really cause other teams to have fits.”

Behind the Lancers’ pitching rotation will be a much-improved defense this spring. After finishing seventh in 2014 in team fielding percentage, the Lancers have spent much of the offseason improving their defensive techniques. While pitching and offense can vary from game to game, Barr is hoping Grace can provide a consistent defensive effort each day.

Jared Lemler was Grace’s starting catcher in 2014 as a freshman and is poised for a breakout year in 2015. According to Barr, Lemler is “exactly what you need behind the plate. He is a leader who understands the game, is trusted by the pitching staff and works closely with the coaching staff to manage the game.”

Paul Blankley was Grace’s starting shortstop for much of his freshman season, but he will be making the switch to center field as a sophomore. Swartz also provides a crucial role for the Lancers defensively with the versatility to play nearly any position on the diamond. Freshmen Noah Follett and Colton Ferrand also figure to start defensively for Grace.

“We have to be pretty balanced this year. We don’t have a team who will dominate any one aspect of the game, but we’ll need to play good defense to carry us. That’s one of the controllables that we can manage,” Barr said.

Leading Grace’s team is the senior class of Brook Vosler, Matt Morgart, Weber and Tim Young. The seniors, along with junior Frank Rocchio, have provided a stable source of leadership and vision for the team.

Barr has organized a challenging nonleague schedule with the hopes of getting Grace better prepared for the Crossroads League season. Grace will travel to Tennessee on Friday to kick off the season against Hiwassee College. The Lancers will also play Oakland City next weekend before the team’s Spring Break trip to Tucson, Ariz., on March 1.

“The Lord has definitely had his hand on putting this program together. We’ve got challenges like we do any year, but I like where we are as a team. We’re energized and working hard,” Barr said. “We still enjoy coming to practice and getting better every day. If we focus on the process and take advantage of each opportunity to get better, the results will come.”

Second-Half Rally Falls Short Against No. 7 Marian

February 12th, 2015

Grace’s women’s basketball team was unable to complete its furious comeback bid against No. 7 Marian on Wednesday.

The first-half struggles from the Lady Lancers (13-14, 6-9 Crossroads League) proved too much for Grace to overcome in a 53-47 defeat.

Grace had its third-straight game scoring less than 55 points on Wednesday, but the Lady Lancers’ defensive effort kept Grace within striking distance.

Grace’s offensive woes were at their peak in the first half. The Lady Lancers needed 7:58 to get on the scoreboard courtesy of a shot from Lindsey Schaefer.

The Knights (23-4, 12-3 CL) used Grace’s struggles to open up a commanding 18-2 lead. Grace took another five minutes to score its third and fourth points, thanks to Schaefer’s basket again.

By halftime, Grace’s offense had regulated, but the Lady Lancers still found themselves behind 32-17. Grace made just 16 percent (5-of-31) of its field goals over the first 20 minutes. The Lady Lancers also struggled in ball control with zero assists and 10 turnovers.

The teams swapped baskets in the second half, and the shooting percentages seemed to follow suit. Grace improved to making 42 percent after halftime while Marian struggled at 24 percent. Marian’s lead was quickly whittled to 10 as Grace scored the first five points of the second half.

The Lady Lancers continued to rally, scoring eight straight points to bring the score to 37-32 with 10:30 remaining on a 3-pointer from Gabby Bryant.

Marian regained its composure and reestablished a 10-point advantage with six minutes left, but Grace did not go down easily. A pair of free throws from Darian Patton cut the lead to six with 2:07 on the clock. Grace then made two straight defensive stops, but the Lady Lancers came up empty on both offensive trips.

After Marian hit a free throw, Micah Pollard raced down the court to score and make the game 50-45 with 43 seconds to play.

Grace sent Marian to the free throw line down the stretch, and the strategy paid off as the Knights hit just 3-of-6 over the final 40 seconds. But Grace was unable to capitalize by missing three of its final four shots.

Overall, Grace finished the game shooting 28 percent while committing 21 turnovers. Grace was 3-of-14 from beyond the arc and missed its first nine treys of the game. The Lady Lancers did hold a 44-33 advantage in rebounding.

Bryant led Grace in scoring with 12 points, making 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. Pollard had her second straight game in double figures with 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting.

The Lady Lancers wrap up their six-game road stretch on Saturday when Grace plays at No. 19 Huntington at 1 p.m. The Foresters will be Grace’s third consecutive ranked opponent.

Expectations High for Grace Softball in 2015

February 12th, 2015

The 2014 season for Grace College’s softball team was a groundbreaking one in many aspects. The Lady Lancers racked up the program’s most wins (29) since 1994, won its most league wins ever (19) and advanced to a national tournament for the first time since 1997.

Grace reached the final day of the 2014 NCCAA World Series, placing fourth under head coach Heather Johnson.

But there was still room for improvement last spring, setting the stage for what Johnson hopes will be an even more memorable 2015.

“I think this year is about taking another step forward as a program. We have the talent, ability and depth in positions to get better as the season goes on,” Johnson said. “We aren’t the underdog anymore which is a huge switch for us. This year our expectations are to pick up where we left off last year.”

Grace stumbled out of the gate last year, losing 12 of its first 16 games. But the Lady Lancers hit their collective stride after the rough start, posting a 25-18 record over the final two months of the season.

Johnson has decided to test Grace early in 2015 with a daunting nonleague schedule. The Lady Lancers will play nine games against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the NAIA Top-25 Coaches’ Preseason Poll, including a doubleheader against No. 2 William Carey on March 13. Grace will travel to Tennessee, Florida and Mississippi to take on the NAIA’s top teams over the first month of the year.

“My philosophy is that you play the competition of the level that you want to be at. Taylor and Huntington were picked ahead of us in the preseason Crossroads League poll, and they both went to NAIA’s [last year] so we are right at the door,” Johnson said. “If your goal is to be nationally ranked and recognized, then you have to play teams at that level. It’s not just our goal to get to a national tournament but to play well there.”

For Grace to reach its potential in 2015, the squad will look to its senior All-American Brooke Shell. The speedy outfielder was First Team NCCAA All-American and honorable mention for NAIA All-American in 2014, setting three single-season records including most hits (94), most runs (64) and most stolen bases (38) in team history.

Shell already sits at first place among Grace’s career leaders in stolen bases with 59 and is poised to become the program’s career hits leader. She has 171 hits entering the season and needs 29 more to pass Olivia Winget for first place.

“Every time I fill out my lineup card, there is one position I know every time – Brooke Shell at leadoff,” Johnson said. “She sets the pace and competitive course for our team. She’s hard on herself, and her teammates now have that same drive. She wants to go out with a bang as a senior.”

Joining Shell’s offensive prowess is a potent lineup. Sophomore Clarissa Knight set a single-season record with 56 RBIs as a freshman and batted .386. Hannah Adams (.311) and Samantha Johnson (.301) also return for their sophomore seasons after topping .300 in 2014.

Freshmen Kati Gregory, who originally signed to play at the University of Evansville, and Hannah Herbster add a pair of powerful bats to Grace’s lineup. Herbster batted .690 as a senior at LaVille High School, ranking third in the state for batting average.

Grace’s offense tied for sixth in the Crossroads League last year with 5.1 runs/game. But Johnson is hoping the Lady Lancers’ offense transforms into a formidable force in 2015 with its new additions.

“In the past, we couldn’t afford to make mistakes on defense because we weren’t scoring runs. But this year we just want to be frustrating to teams,” Johnson said. “I don’t think we rely on one area this year. We aren’t all power, all slappers or all contact hitters, but we’re trying to put all of that together and have a lot of offensive weapons to throw at teams. We scored a lot of runs this fall, so I’m excited to see how we look this spring.”

Adams and freshman Chandler Elliott are expected to anchor Grace’s pitching rotation this year. Adams posted a 2.54 ERA in 17 league games. Alex Shipley (3.20 ERA), Amanda Bowman and Allison Franklin provided much-needed experience and depth to the pitching rotation, and Herbster also looks to earn innings on the mound.

Brittany Melzoni, Chelsea Whitesell, Morgan Cody, Morgan Hutcheson and Maribeth Strong all return from last year’s postseason run at the NCCAA World Series. And Johnson has revamped Grace’s lineup with talented freshmen Ashley Kleinbub, Brittany Turner, Herbster, Elliott and Gregory.

While Grace is hoping for growth on the diamond this spring, Johnson is excited for the personal growth she’s witnessed already within the Lady Lancers.

“This team has really grown off the field as much as they have on the field. They are growing in their spiritual lives and in their relationships with one another. I think that will pay high dividends as the season progresses,” Johnson said. “I’m excited for what this team can do physically, but their love for one another and commitment to the team excites me even more.”

The Lady Lancers start the season this weekend in Pulaski, Tenn., for the Martin Methodist Meltdown. Grace will then travel to Clermont, Fla., for 10 games during Spring Break.

Lancers Blast Knights for 20th Win

February 12th, 2015


pictured is Brandon Vanderhegghen rising for a finger roll in the second half against Marian

Grace’s men’s basketball team blew by Marian University on Tuesday night, using its post strength to win 70-57.

The Lancers (20-7, 10-5 Crossroads League) secured their 21st 20-win season in program history with the victory. Two players for Grace notched double-doubles, including Dennis Williams (20 points, 13 rebounds) and Brandon Vanderhegghen (16 points, 10 boards).

Grace’s interior presence was felt in a major way in the first half. After a sluggish start offensively to the game, the Lancers sparked to life courtesy of Williams. The senior center converted three straight post moves to hand the Lancers a 20-14 lead with 10 minutes left in the half.

Grace continued to pound the Knights (16-11, 7-8 CL) down low, gradually opening up a 40-24 lead at the break.

The Lancers scored 22 of their 40 points in the paint and hit 57 percent of their shots from the floor. Williams scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the first period, and Grace held a plus-five advantage in rebounds.

The Knights were held scoreless for over five minutes to start the second half, allowing Grace to open up a commanding 45-24 lead. Marian still had one last rally in its arsenal, however.

Marian drained 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions to highlight a massive 18-4 charge. The final trey from Nick Painter brought the Knights to within seven at 49-42 with 9:32 to play.

Vanderhegghen responded coolly with a 3-pointer on Grace’s next possession to stretch the lead to 10, and Chad Hoffer made the play of the night on the next sequence. Hoffer stripped the ball from Jason Riley, then raced down the floor to slam down a vicious one-handed dunk. The Knights were unable to get within single-digits of Grace’s lead after Hoffer’s dunk.

Grace was efficient in every aspect of the game except free throw shooting (43 percent). The Lancers made 52 percent of their field goals, including 44 percent from beyond the arc. Grace also turned the ball over eight times and nabbed six steals from Marian.

The Lancers were particularly dominant down low, grabbing 15 offensive boards for 14 second-chance points. Grace outscored Marian in the paint 42-12 and had a plus-nine advantage in rebounds.

Williams scored his 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting, and Vanderhegghen drilled 3-of-4 from the 3-point line. Erik Bowen tallied a career-high 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the bench, and Logan Irwin notched seven points and five assists.

The Lancers have another home game on Saturday when Huntington comes to the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center for a3 p.m. tipoff.

Boren Named NCCAA National Athlete of Week

February 12th, 2015

Jo Boren, graduate of Lakeland Christian Academy.

Jo Boren earned her first national weekly honor when she was named the NCCAA National Indoor Track Athlete of the Week on Tuesday.

Boren broke two school records at the Westmont Sunshine Open last weekend in California. She became the first Lady Lancer to beat the one-minute mark in the 400-meter race, crossing the finish line in school-record time of 59.81. She also teamed up to break the school record in the 4×400 at 4:09.29 with Katelyn McCullough, Mya Brown and Alicia Hertzler.

Boren, a graduate of Lakeland Christian Academy, becomes the second Lady Lancer to earn NCCAA weekly honors. Brown also claimed the Indoor Track Athlete of the Week recognition on Jan. 27.

The Lancers’ next meet is on Saturday at the Indiana Wesleyan Invitational at 11 a.m.

Former Grace Seminary Faculty Member, Dr. Robert Culver, Passes

February 10th, 2015

Dr. Robert D. Culver

Dr. Robert D. Culver went home to be with the Lord on February 7, 2015. He was 98 years old. Dr. Culver joined the Grace Seminary faculty, teaching Old Testament, Hebrew, and Theology from March of 1945 until May of 1951. He went on to teach at Wheaton College and Graduate School, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and the Near-East School of Archaeology at Jerusalem.

Dr. Culver, brother-in-law to Herman Hoyt, was the last remaining person to attend the celebrated prayer meeting at the home of J.C. Beal in Ashland, Ohio that led directly to the founding of the Grace Theological Seminary. For two years, the seminary met at Ellet Grace Brethren Church in Akron, Ohio before moving to Winona Lake in 1939.

Dr. Culver was also an accomplished writer. He wrote a number of books including a 1,250 page text published by Christian Focus Publications in 2005 entitled, Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical.

“We honor the astonishing longevity and productivity of Dr. Culver’s ministry over so many years,” said Bill Katip, president of Grace College & Seminary. “Just this past week I was reminded by one of the nation’s great theologians, Dr. Walter Kaiser, Jr., what an important mentor Dr. Culver was in his life.”

Katip continued, “As a distinguished alumnus of the Grace Theological Seminary family, Dr. Culver will be missed, but we honor his dedication to this institution and, more importantly, his service to and love of the Lord. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Celeste, and their family and friends.

Kauffman Named CoSIDA Academic All-District

February 10th, 2015

Allison Kauffman

All-American senior Allison Kauffman was recognized for her academic and athletic achievement when she was named CoSIDA Academic All-District.

The Capital One All-District Teams, selected by CoSIDA, honor 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 round of winners from eligible student-athletes.

Kauffman was the only representative from the Crossroads League in the College Division. The senior from Fort Wayne, Ind., currently boasts a 4.0 GPA as an Exercise Science major.

She is putting the final touches on one of the most decorated careers in program history as a senior, leading the team with averages of 18.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. She ranks second all-time for the Lady Lancers in both career points and rebounds.

For the season, Kauffman ranks 10th in the NAIA Div. II in scoring and 17th in rebounding. She has 12 double-doubles in 2014-15 and has scored in double figures in 15 consecutive contests.

The Lady Lancers (13-13, 6-8 Crossroads League) have two weeks of the regular season remaining. Grace will take its shot at consecutive ranked opponents this week on the road, traveling to Marian on Wednesday and Huntington on Saturday.

Lancers Compete at California Meet

February 9th, 2015

Grace’s track and field team took Lancer Nation to the West Coast this week, competing at the Westmont Sunshine Opener on Saturday.

Nathan Lane exceled, taking home a trio of first-place finishes at the meet. He won the mile, the 3000-meter race and anchored the Distance Medley Relay with Tyler Houvener, Joel Zook and Donovan Graham to another first. His time in the mile and the 3000 met the NCCAA qualifying standard.

Mya Brown had three top-three finishes. She placed second in the 60 hurdles, third in the triple jump and was second in the 4×400 relay. The relay team of Katelyn McCullough, Brown, Alicia Hertzler and Jo Boren broke Grace’s school record with a time of 4:09.29.

Additionally, Boren became the first Lady Lancer to beat the one-minute mark in the 400 race, finishing in a school-record time of 59.81.

“It’s been a great trip overall for the group we have in California,” said Grace head coach Jeff Raymond. “Traveling together helps build team unity and create some great shared memories. That fact that we had some very good performances is a nice bonus.

Graham and Matt Lee were first and second respectively in the 800, and Lee finished in a personal-best time. Zook qualified for NCCAA’s in the 200 at 23.25

Hunter Reed and Brandon Smith had PR’s in the mile, and Megan Gast had her own PR in the women’s mile race.

To see complete results from the meet at Westmont College meet, click here. Note that times were adjusted due to races being run on an outdoor track.

Additionally, several members of Grace’s squad stayed in Indiana and reached PR times at the Anderson University meet, including Paige Kindig’s second place in the pole vault.

The Lancers continue the indoor season next Saturday at the Indiana Wesleyan Invitational. The meet at IWU is the final tune-up before NCCAA and NAIA Indoor Nationals.