Postseason Honors Come in for Grace

March 27th, 2015

Grace’s men’s basketball team enjoyed its ninth consecutive season with a national tournament appearance during the 2014-15 season. It was also Grace’s first time appearing in two national tournaments in one season.

The Lancers’ success under head coach Jim Kessler earned a number of individual honors on the national scale.

Logan Irwin highlighted Grace’s awards haul by being named honorable mention for NAIA All-American and Second Team NCCAA All-American. The junior point guard led Grace in scoring with 13.6 points per game and also tallied a team-high 4.4 assists per game.

Brandon Vanderhegghen was named to the 2015 NCCAA All-Tournament Team. The junior guard had a sparkling tournament for the Lancers, averaging 20.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.0 steals over the three-game tourney. He ended the tournament with a career-high 28 points with six 3-pointers against Cincinnati Christian.

Additionally, Kyle Fillman and Drew Perrin were named Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes. Student-athletes must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 and be a junior or senior in order to be nominated.

The Lancers advanced to the “Sweet Sixteen” of the NAIA National Championships in Branson, Mo., before returning home to play in the NCCAA National Championships. Grace finished sixth at NCCAA Nationals.

Grace ended the year ranked No. 19 in the NAIA Div. II Coaches’ Postseason Top 25 Poll.

Grace College and Bethel College Unite for Common Cause

March 27th, 2015

Pictured left to right: Monica Boyer, Gov. Mike Pence, Dr. Bill Katip, Dr. Gregg Chenoweth

Rivals on the basketball court but partners when fighting for a common cause, the presidents of Grace College, Winona Lake and Bethel College in Mishawaka were among those attending the private ceremony this morning in which Gov. Mike Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the governor’s private Indianapolis Statehouse office.  Dr. Bill Katip (second from right), president of Grace and Dr. Gregg Chenoweth (right) president of Bethel College, are shown here after the ceremony with Gov. Pence and with local activist Monica Boyer.

In a press statement following the signing of the controversial bill, Gov. Pence explained, “Today I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith. The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.”

Also attending the ceremony was Monica Boyer, a Bethel graduate and current Grace employee. Boyer, a political activist, is president of Kosciusko Silent NO More and is co-founder of Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate.

Grace Splits Pair with Bethel

March 26th, 2015

pictured is freshman Brittany Turner rounding third base against Bethel on Wednesday.

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.

Brooke Shell Breaks Grace’s Record for Career Hits

March 24th, 2015

In less than three seasons, All-American outfielder Brooke Shell has broken the career hits’ record for Grace’s softball team.

The senior from Hartford City, Ind., tied the career hits’ record on Saturday with a single against Goshen in the second inning. One inning later, she became the first Lady Lancer to record 200 career hits with a single to left field. Shell broke the previous record of 199 hits held by Olivia Winget (2011-14).

“I’m excited for Brooke to have broken the career hits’ record in only three seasons. She has been a pivotal player in our program’s transition,” said Grace head coach Heather Johnson. “She is an offensive leader on our team and continues to improve with each season. Brooke is a one-of-a-kind player to have coached, and she will have made a significant impact at the close of her career.”

Shell is arguably already the greatest offensive player in program history. She already holds the single-season records for most hits, most triples, most runs and most stolen bases.

She also is Grace’s all-time leader in career stolen bases (67) and is on pace to shatter the career batting average record. Shell currently boasts an average of .445 for her career, well above the current No. 1 spot of .411 held by Ginnette Dunwell.

Shell was a First Team NCCAA All-American in 2014 and has been honorable mention for NAIA All-American in 2013 and 2014.

Grace Track Kicks off Outdoor Season

March 22nd, 2015

Grace’s track and field team split its efforts in two meets to start the outdoor season on Saturday.

Following one of the best indoor seasons in program history, Grace earned a number of NCCAA qualifiers and even a few school records.

A few student-athletes competed in a field-only meet at Taylor University while the rest were at Butler University for the Butler Bulldog Open.

At Butler, Mya Brown set a school record in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 15.38 seconds to qualify for NCCAA Nationals. She also met the NCCAA standard in the long jump and the triple jump.

Katelyn McCullough (800m), Nathan Lane (1500) and Donovan Graham also were NCCAA qualifiers in their respective events. Joel Zook qualified for NCCAA’s in the 400 with a time of 51.26 and narrowly missed the mark in the 200 at 22.86. Alicia Hertzler produced a pair of PR’s in the 200 (27.67) and the 400 (1:02.67).

At Taylor, Macallister Seitz set a new school record in the hammer throw, heaving it 140-feet-3. Jacob Brown also beat the old school-record mark in the meet by tossing 137-10. Both student-athletes qualified for NCCAA’s.

Macallister Seitz met the NCCAA mark in the discus with a throw of 134-10, and Tyler Back did the same in the shot put at 43-6. Nathan Brown also cleared the NCCAA standard in the high jump with a leap of 6-4.

On the women’s side, Hannah Treadway qualified for NCCAA Nationals in the javelin with a throw of 104-6.

“Overall it was a strong start to our outdoor season. We were missing a few athletes due to minor injuries or illness, but we still produced a couple of school records and several NCCAA qualifiers,” said Grace coach Jeff Raymond. “This gives us something to build off of in the coming weeks.”

The Lancers’ next outdoor meet is on March 28 for the Goshen College Invitational.

Grace’s Offense Erupts in Sweep of Maple Leafs

March 22nd, 2015

An eruption. An explosion. An outburst. Whatever you want to call it, Grace’s offense had it during the Lady Lancers’ sweep of Goshen on Saturday.

Grace’s softball team enjoyed 22 runs and 28 hits over the doubleheader as the Lady Lancers won 11-10 and 11-3.

In the opening game, the teams took turns matching each other on the scoreboard. Grace struck first with two runs in the first inning after Chandler Elliott blasted a two-run double. But the Maple Leafs countered with two runs to tie the score in the bottom of the inning.

Grace and Goshen each scored a run in the second, and Grace added two more in the fourth off the bat of Clarissa Knight. The Maple Leafs thought they had gained separated in their half of the fourth with a five-run outburst to pull ahead 8-5.

But the Lady Lancers were far from finished with six more runs in the top of the fifth. Ashley Kleinbub and Hannah Adams led off the inning with back-to-back doubles, and Kati Gregory, Alex Shipley and Samantha Johnson singled on the next three at-bats. Knight and Elliott drove in the final three runs of the inning with consecutive two-out singles to put the Lady Lancers ahead 11-8.

Goshen pulled back within one at 11-10 after plating two in the fifth, and Elliott handled the rest from the mound. The freshman hurler kept Goshen from finding the game-tying run over the last two innings, tossing the final 3.1 innings in relief. She also batted 3-for-5 with three RBIs.

Alex Shipley batted 3-for-4 with two runs, and Knight drove in three runs with two hits. Brooke Shell also plated three times and notched two hits.

In the second game, Grace scored early and often. Shell was a one-player wrecking crew on offense, leading Grace with a perfect 4-for-4 performance from the leadoff position. She drove in four runs, scored twice and even stole a base.

Grace ripped off five runs over the first two innings then added six more in the fourth.

Incredibly, Grace blasted three home runs in one inning during the fourth. Knight belted a solo homer to lead off the inning, and Brittany Melzoni had a two-run home run with two outs. After Shipley and Johnson reached base on the next two at-bats, Shell cleared the bases with a three-run blast for the team’s third homer of the inning.

For the game, Grace outhit Goshen 12-4 with five of Grace’s hits going for extra bases. The Lady Lancers’ speed on the basepaths was also showcased with four steals. Johnson swiped two bases and scored twice, and Chandler Elliot was 2-for-4.

Hannah Adams earned the win on the mound, tossing four innings and allowing four hits with four strikeouts. The game ended after five innings due to the eight-margin run rule.

The Lady Lancers’ next series is on Tuesday at Bethel. Grace will open up Miller Field with home games next week with three doubleheaders, including against on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Lancers Take One of Two from Goshen

March 22nd, 2015

The Lancers’ baseball squad improved to 3-1 in Crossroads League play with a split of Goshen on Saturday afternoon.

The Lancers (10-9, 3-1 CL) pulled out a 4-3 victory in the first game before Goshen’s pitching stifled the Lancers into a 9-0 defeat in game two.

In the opening game, timely hitting and strong pitching helped Grace to a narrow 4-3 victory. Grace had three fielding errors in the contest, but the Lancers also outhit the Maple Leafs 9-6.

The Lancers came out firing in the first inning, scoring three runs with a massive two-out rally. CJ Swartz walked with two men out and stole second. He came home on a single from Austin Green. Back-to-back doubles from Quentin Herbster and Frank Rocchio drove in two more runs as Grace grabbed a 3-0 lead.

Neither team would score again until the fifth inning when the Maple Leafs tied the game. It was Goshen’s turn to make a two-out run, plating all three of their runs after the first two batters were retired. A throwing error kept Goshen’s inning alive on the fifth at-bat, and the Maple Leafs made Grace pay by tying the game at 3-3.

The Lancers’ response was immediate in the top of the sixth. Green doubled down the right field line. After Logan Grigsby came on as a pinch runner, he advanced to third on a wild pitch. Rocchio took care of the rest with a sacrifice fly to right-center field to bring home Grigsby.

Goshen was poised to even the score in the bottom of the sixth with a runner on third and one out, but Grace made the defensive play of the game to tag out the runner at home plate on a bunt. Goshen still had two runners in scoring position with two outs, but Jason Stevens got the final batter of the inning to ground out to second base.

Stevens pitched 2.1 innings in relief, allowing one hit and zero runs in an effective outing. The Maple Leafs again put a runner in scoring position in the seventh, but Stevens ended the game from the mound with a strikeout and a ground out to third.

Brook Vosler and Aaron Christenberry were 2-for-4 from the first two spots in the lineup, and Green batted 2-for-3. Rocchio drove in three of Grace’s four runs.

The second game was a forgettable one for Grace. The Lancers were held to one hit by the sterling pitching of Goshen’s Eli Grimes.

CJ Swartz got Grace’s lone hit of the second game with the first at-bat of the seventh inning, spoiling a potential no-hitter from Grimes. Grace did have one baserunner from an error, one from a hit by pitch and one from a walk, but the Lancers were otherwise handcuffed on offense. Wesley Gensch notched two strikeouts in a scoreless inning of relief.

The Lancers’ next doubleheader is on Friday next week at Mt. Vernon Nazarene.

Lady Lancers Down Warriors 74-62 at NCCAA Nationals

March 20th, 2015

Pictured is junior Gabby Bryant bringing the ball up the court for Grace in the second half on Thursday.

Grace’s women’s basketball team secured their third winning season in four years with a convincing 74-62 win over Southern Wesleyan on Thursday.

The Lady Lancers (18-16) will wrap up the season on Friday at 7 p.m. in the fifth-place game of the NCCAA National Championships against Southwestern Assemblies of God. Grace’s total of 18 wins is also the third-most in program history.

In the first half, the lead changed hands multiple times over the first 12 minutes of play with neither team firmly establishing itself in front.

Kelsey Sule gave Grace a major spark off the bench, however, rattling off 13 points in 10 minutes to give Grace a 37-33 lead at halftime. Sule buried four 3-pointers, including one in the final minute, to help bust open SWU’s defense.

Grace scored the first seven points of the second half to propel the Lady Lancers to a 44-33 lead, but the Warriors did not fade. SWU responded with four quick points and kept Grace within striking distance.

With Grace leading 57-52 with seven minutes remaining, the Lady Lancers made a defensive stand to take control of the contest. Grace held SWU without a point for nearly four minutes of action, going on an 8-0 run in the process to pull ahead by 13. Heather House scored six points in a row for the Lady Lancers during the run, and SWU could not come closer than nine points of Grace for the rest of the game.

JoEllen Fickel finished with a career-high 16 points in 18 minutes, hitting 8-of-10 from the floor. Sule finished with 13 points, and Allison Kauffman scored 13 points with nine rebounds.

Gabby Bryant tallied 7 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, Heather House scored 10, and Micah Pollard registered seven points and three assists.

After the teams shot an identical 13-of-32 from floor in the first half, Grace separated itself shooting-wise after halftime. The Lady Lancers made 46 percent of their field goals in the second half compared to 28 percent for the Warriors.

Grace struggled in ball control with 20 turnovers – compared to nine for SWU – but the Lady Lancers held a dominant 44-24 advantage in rebounding.

With a win in the fifth-place game on Friday, Grace would have its second-highest finish in the national tournament (third place, 2012).

Lancers’ Offense Cruises by Simpson

March 19th, 2015

Pictured: Freshman forward Erik Bowen posting up against Simpson on Thursday

Grace’s men’s basketball team rebounded from a disappointing loss in the opening round of NCCAA Nationals, taking down Simpson 83-77 on Thursday.

After falling into the consolation bracket with a loss to Dallas Baptist on Wednesday night, Grace bounced back with an offensive eruption against Simpson. The Lancers (23-12) hit 52 percent of their field goals, including 59 percent in the second half.

Brandon Vanderhegghen led Grace in scoring with 21 points, hitting 7-of-13 from the floor to go along with six assists and three rebounds. Adrian Makolli had a career day with 18 points and 12 rebounds. He made 8-of-10 of his shots and also swatted four shots.

The Lancers will conclude the season on Friday at 5 p.m. in the fifth-place game of NCCAA Nationals against Cincinnati Christian University.

Grace seemed in control to start the game, easing ahead 17-10. The Lancers buried a trio of 3-pointers in the first five minutes to key its offense.

But the Red Hawks (18-17) recovered and led by four with less than two minutes to go in the half. Grace made a late push to regain the lead at 37-35 entering halftime. Makolli scored 10 points in the first half, including the last-second tip-in before the halftime buzzer.

Simpson continued to hold a slight lead over Grace with a 46-41 advantage with 15:41 remaining, but Grace went on a game-changing run and never looked back.

The Lancers rattled off an incredible 18-0 charge over the next four minutes, flipping a five-point deficit into a 13-point lead. Grace never trailed for the rest of the game and held off a late rally from Simpson for the six-point win.

Logan Irwin added 14 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds, and Chad Hoffer scored nine points off the bench.

Lady Lancers Unable to Slow Bethesda at NCCAA Nationals

March 19th, 2015

The NCCAA National Championships for Grace kicked off with a wild quarterfinal matchup with third-seeded Bethesda on Wednesday.

The Flames’ blistering pace unraveled the Lady Lancers as Grace lost 87-82 at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.

Grace struggled to adjust to Bethesda’s frenetic pace in the first half. The Flames’ run-and-gun style of play produced an incredible 32 shots from the 3-point line. Grace’s defense held Bethesda to just 16 percent shooting on 3’s (5-of-32).

Bethesda’s fullcourt trapping defense was equally disruptive. Grace committed 16 turnovers before halftime to hamper its cause.

Offensively, Grace was adept at getting to the foul line. The Lady Lancers (17-16) took 18 free throws in the first half and made 16 (89 percent). Allison Kauffman had nearly half of Grace’s points with 16 in the first 20 minutes.

The Flames (12-17) pulled out to a 10-point margin after four minutes of play in the second half at 50-40, but the Lady Lancers clawed back into contention. Grace ripped off 14 points in a four-minute span to chop Bethesda’s lead down to two.

But Grace was unable to wrestle away the lead from Bethesda as the Flames’ 3-point shots began to fall. Bethesda re-established a double-digit lead with 6:16 to play. Bethesda led by as many as 15 points with just over two minutes remaining before Grace went on a valiant comeback attempt. The Lady Lancers outscored the Flames 14-4 over the last two minutes, but it was not enough to send Grace into the national semifinals.

Grace shot 14 3-pointers in the game and made none. The Lady Lancers connected on 37 percent of their field goals compared to 32 percent for the Flames. Bethesda forced Grace into 22 turnovers, scoring 20 points off those miscues.

Kauffman notched 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Sarah Feasby added another double-double with 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Gabby Bryant had nine points and five rebounds, and JoEllen Fickel, Micah Pollard and Heather House each tallied eight points.

The chaotic contest saw a combined 36 turnovers, 64 3-point shots and 34 offensive rebounds. Bethesda fired up 50 treys and had 90 field goal attempts on their own.

The Lady Lancers fall into the consolation bracket of the tournament, starting with a game against Southern Wesleyan on Thursday at 1:45 p.m. The Grace/SWU contest will be a rematch of last season’s seventh-place game which the Warriors won in the final seconds. Grace will conclude its season on Friday in either the fifth or seventh-place game.