WINONA LAKE – Grace’s softball team put itself in position to upend No. 2 Marian in both games of a doubleheader on Tuesday.
But the Lady Lancers were unable to complete an upset in the home opener at Miller Athletic Complex, falling 3-0 and 7-3.
Grace’s bats were silent for much of the opener. The Lady Lancers only mustered two hits in the seven-inning game and were blanked 3-0 on the scoreboard.
Hannah Middlebrooks was solid on the mound. The freshman held the No. 2 Knights (13-1, 4-0 CL) to seven hits and two earned runs in a complete game.
The Lady Lancers (8-12, 2-4 Crossroads League) only moved a baserunner past first base once in the game. Hannah Herbster led off the bottom of the first with a walk and moved to second base with a steal. That marked Grace’s only time on second base.
Herbster’s steal also tied the program record for career stolen bases. She picked up her 11th steal of the year, tying Brooke Shell’s career record of 73 stolen bases.
Herbster and Britney Young were the only two Grace players with a hit as Marian held on for the 3-0 win.
Grace’s bats were much sharper in the second game. The Lady Lancers, who had two hits in the first game, produced three hits in the opening inning of game two.
Herbster and Abby Mozingo started the inning with back-to-back singles. A sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position, and Ashley Kleinbub laced a single to the outfield.
Herbster scored on Kleinbub’s single, but Mozingo was tagged out at the plate.
Marian, however, had scored two runs in the top of the first inning. Grace committed two errors in the field, allowing the Knights to take a 2-0 lead.
The Knights pulled ahead 3-0 after scoring another unearned run in the top of the fifth, but Grace was poised to strike back.
Sam Heim and Herbster reached base with a single and a double. Grace quickly picked up two outs, however, and was on the verge of going scoreless in the inning. But with two outs, Chandler Elliott drove in both runners with a timely single to even the score 3-3.
Marian regained the lead in the top of the sixth, scoring two unearned runs and four runs total to grab a 7-3 lead. Grace was unable to generate a rally in its final at-bats to end in defeat.
Herbster batted 3-for-4 with two runs, and Heim hit 2-for-3 with a run scored. Elliott pitched effectively from the mound, yielding only two earned runs and nine hits in a complete game.
The Lady Lancers continue play this weekend, playing at Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Friday and hosting Taylor on Saturday at 1 p.m.