WINONA LAKE – A stout defensive effort in the second game helped the Grace College softball team secure a split with Spring Arbor on Saturday.
The Lady Lancers (21-20, 14-12 Crossroads League) gave up a massive run in the opening game to lose 13-5, but Grace recovered to win 2-1 in the second game at Miller Athletic Complex.
Momentum shifted dramatically and definitively in the opener. Grace seemed to have the game under control with a 5-1 lead after four innings.
In the first inning, Hannah Herbster singled, stole second, was bunted to third and scored on a single from Ashley Kleinbub. In the third, Herbster singled to score Mariah Roman, and Abby Mozingo later singled to bring in Herbster.
Michaela Lee led off the fourth with a deep double, and she came home to plate on a single by Clarissa Knight. Kleinbub singled on the next at-bat to bring in another run, making Grace’s lead 5-1.
But Spring Arbor flipped the script in the fifth inning. The Cougars pounded out eight runs, forced two pitching changes and benefitted from Grace miscues to grab an unexpected 9-5 lead during a seeming unending inning.
Matters got worse for Grace in the sixth. Spring Arbor tacked on four runs, forcing a run-rule situation. Grace was retired 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth, ending the game due to the run rule.
Herbster batted 3-for-4 with three runs and two steals, and Kleinbub was 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
In the second game, both teams scored a run in the first frame. SAU plated on a two-out double, and Grace scored on a ground ball from Knight.
The third inning saw Grace take the lead. Herbster singled and stole second. Emily Bobb moved Herbster to third with a single, and Knight’s long sacrifice fly allowed Herbster to run home which gave Grace a 2-1 lead.
That 2-1 cushion was sustained until the end of the game. Grace’s defense kept the Cougars from scoring, and SAU rarely threatened over the final innings.
Hannah England muted the Cougars’ bats for five innings, allowing one run to score with three strikeouts.
Elaina McClellan came in to pitch the last two innings and was nearly perfect. The sophomore hurler allowed one walk and zero hits, which included a perfect seventh inning, to get the save and secure the split for the doubleheader.
Both teams had six hits apiece, and both sides stranded six baserunners. Bobb was a perfect 2-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt and a steal, and Knight drove in both of Grace’s runs. Herbster had two runs and a stolen base, and Kati Gregory added one hit and two walks.
The Lady Lancers will head to Goshen on Tuesday to continue league play.