WINONA LAKE – The Grace College softball team enters the postseason on a high note after sweeping Taylor on Monday.
The Lady Lancers (29-25, 20-16 Crossroads League) defeated Taylor 10-2 and 2-0 at Miller Field to wrap up the regular season.
With the wins Grace secured the No. 5 seed in this week’s CL Tournament, held at Marian University. The Lady Lancers will play Spring Arbor on Wednesday in the opening game. The tournament will continue on Thursday with the championship games to be played on Friday. The winner of the CL Tournament receives an automatic bid to the NAIA World Series.
The Trojans (26-26, 17-19 CL) held an early lead in the opening game thanks to two first-inning runs. Grace took the lead in the bottom of the third and never looked back.
Clarissa Knight drove in Grace’s first run with a single. Chandler Elliott gave Grace the lead for good on the next at-bat, driving in two runs with a double to the outfield.
In the fourth inning, Kyleigh Garner led off with a double. Two batters later, Kati Gregory launched a two-run homer over the fence to increase Grace’s advantage to 5-2.
The fifth inning saw two more runs for Grace. Ashley Kleinbub doubled to score Elliott, and Garner produced a two-out single to bring in Kleinbub.
Grace ended the game thanks to the run rule in the bottom of the sixth. Grace’s first two batters reached base with a walk and a hit batsman, and Knight plated one runner with a double. Elliott ended the game on the next at-bat, driving in Sam Heim and Knight with a hit to the outfield to win the game 10-2.
Elliott batted 3-for-4 with four RBIs, Knight was 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs, and Kleinbub and Garner also notched two hits apiece.
Elliott was sharp from the mound, tossing the final four scoreless innings in relief to get the win. She allowed three scattered hits and struck out three batters.
In the second game, Grace’s pitching kept Taylor scoreless for the entire game. Amanda Bowman and Hannah England tossed the first five innings, and Allison Franklin and Elliott combined to finish the complete game shutout from the mound.
A two-out error helped Grace get on the scoreboard in the third inning. After Heim reached base on a dropped fly ball, Knight brought her in with an RBI single.
In the fourth inning, Grace increased its lead to 2-0. The Lady Lancers loaded the bases, and Mariah Roman produced a sac fly to right field to score Garner.
Those two plays proved to be the difference. Taylor threatened to rally in the top of the seventh, loading the bases to put the winning run on first base. But Elliott came in to record the final out via an infield fly ball, securing the save and Grace’s shutout performance.
Grace’s staff combined to throw a four-hitter. Bowman worked the first three innings with one hit, England tossed the next two innings, Franklin struck out three in 1.2 innings, and Elliott got the save by recording the final out.
Knight had two of Grace’s four hits in the contest, and Emily Bobb was 1-for-2.