Grace’s softball team picked up a crucial split of Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Friday at Miller Athletic Complex.
The Lady Lancers (14-32, 8-24 Crossroads League) lost the opener 7-3 but found revenge with a 6-3 win in the second game.
Grace now sits one game behind Goshen for the last spot in the CL tournament. Grace hosts Goshen for a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday, a series which could swing momentum in either team’s favor.
Prior to Friday’s doubleheader, Grace was pleased to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for a future softball stadium, which will be named Coach Phil Dick Field.
In the opener, Grace’s early lead vanished quickly as the Cougars (23-17-1, 15-13 CL) excelled on offense. MVNU recorded a 17-7 advantage in hits en route to a 7-3 win.
Grace struck first with a pair of runs in the first inning. Sam Heim led off the inning with a single and eventually came home on a ground ball by Chandler Elliott. Elliott later scored on a sacrifice fly by Britney Young.
But the Cougars countered with six runs over the next two stanzas, and Grace never recovered.
Grace’s only other run came in the fourth after Paige Hlutke’s RBI single scored Ashley Kleinbub.
Elliott pitched well in relief for Grace, giving up just one run over the final 4.1 innings. Heim led Grace’s offense, going 3-for-4 with a run and a stolen base.
In the second game, Elliott continued her pitching wizardry from the mound to lead Grace to victory. The senior threw a complete game, giving up three runs in a 6-3 victory.
The Lady Lancers scored all six of their runs in a three-inning span. Young and Olivia Scarbrough had RBI hits in the second inning, and Hannah Herbster’s double brought in Heim in the third.
In the fourth, Grace scored three runs on three hits. Young and Scarbrough had back-to-back singles, and Kleinbub’s double scored them both. Later, Heim laid down a squeeze bunt to plate Kleinbub.
MVNU threatened to rally in the top of the sixth, scoring a run and putting baserunners on second and third. Elliott escaped the inning with a ground out, however.
Grace could have extended its lead in the bottom of the sixth with a bases-loaded situation, but the Cougars kept the score 6-3 with another ground out.
Elliott had to deal with two baserunners in MVNU’s final at-bats, but she eliminated the threat with a ground out.
Heim again had the hot bat for Grace, batting 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI, and Scarbrough hit 2-for-2 with a run and an RBI. Kleinbub drove in two runs and scored herself, and Young plated twice with an RBI.
Saturday’s doubleheader with Goshen is Grace’s home finale and also the final set of games at the existing softball field. Construction for the new Coach Phil Dick Field will begin this summer.
Grace’s baseball team kept its postseason hopes alive with a 10-6 victory over Mt. Vernon Nazarene on Friday.
The Lancers benefitted from a seven-run inning to hold off the Cougars (21-22, 10-15 Crossroads League) and remain in the hunt for the CL Tournament. Grace and MVNU will complete their series on Saturday with a 1 p.m. doubleheader at the Miller Athletic Complex.
The Lancers (6-31, 6-16 CL) made the most of their hits on Friday. Grace had seven extra-base hits — all of which were doubles.
The game was scoreless and quick through three innings as each pitcher found a rhythm. But Grace exposed MVNU’s defense in the bottom of the third with a massive inning.
Overall in the third, Grace enjoyed seven runs on seven hits, sparked by five consecutive doubles. All seven runs were scored with two outs as well.
Austin Baker started the scoring, driving in Ethan Brooks and Cameron Maxwell with a double. Houston Haney echoed Baker’s performance on the next at-bat, doubling to plate Baker and Hunter Ackerman.
Gabe Douglass, David Anderson and William Swisher all followed suit with an RBI double on the ensuing at-bats. When the dust had settled, Grace had batted around the lineup and held a 7-0 lead.
Grace tacked on three more runs in the fourth to pull ahead 10-0. Baker again was the initial catalyst, hitting another two-bagger to help two runs score. And Haney returned the favor with a double to score Baker.
The Lancers were fairly quiet for the rest of the game offensively, producing just a single hit over the final four innings.
The Cougars slowly built a comeback bid, plating six times between the fifth and seventh innings.
Jordan Noska and Kyle Brunner combined in relief to quiet MVNU down the stretch. Noska was responsible for two scoreless innings, yielding just one hit, and Brunner threw a perfect ninth inning with a pair of strikeouts to seal Grace’s victory.
Baker and Haney were both 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs, and Maxwell hit 2-for-5 with two runs. Ackerman plated twice, and Anderson had 1 hit, 1 run and 1 RBI.
Saturday’s home games also serve as Senior Day to honor the graduating class.
Phil Dick Field Ceremony
Grace College celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony for a new softball stadium on Friday afternoon.
The softball complex will receive a facelift this summer. The renovated softball stadium at Miller Athletic Complex will be named Phil Dick Field.
Coach Dick is the all-time winningest coach in program history, leading the Lady Lancers’ softball team to 252 victories from 1981-94 and the team’s only NAIA tournament appearance in 1994. During his time at Grace, he also served as Athletic Director and had a lasting impact on many lives.
“We are thrilled to have the chance to enhance our athletic department with this new softball stadium,” said Grace President Dr. Bill Katip. “Coach Dick was an important figure in our history, and we are excited to continue his legacy for future generations of Lady Lancers.”
The project includes grandstand seating behind home plate, new press box, upgraded fencing, protective netting and a four-foot padded wall to border the complex’s backstop.
Additionally, the project will have new graphic banners and a sidewalk into the complex to create a dynamic, visual walkway to the field. Signage to honor the late coach Dick, his family and donors will also be installed at the stadium. Becky Dick, Phil’s wife, was on hand along with over a dozen of Phil’s children and grandchildren.
Construction on the softball stadium, which will be handled by Ancon Construction – the same company that won the South Bend Cubs/Four Winds Field renovation bid – will begin by June 1 with the project slated to be ready for next softball season. Coach Phil Dick Field will have a dedication ceremony on Oct. 6 to coincide with Grace’s Homecoming. All softball alumni and fans are encouraged to make plans to attend the dedication ceremony.
“Phil Dick’s family, along with the Yeagers, have helped with the vision of what this softball stadium can be,” said Grace College athletic director Chad Briscoe following the ceremony. “We shared with them the future plans and we all felt this was a great opportunity to impact our softball program. It’s also yet another way to honor Phil’s legacy and this will help continue the growth we have at the Miller Athletic Complex.
“As I’ve said before, things like this matters for recruiting,” continued Briscoe. “It’s relevant. Who wouldn’t want to play in a nice looking stadium? That only helps coach Reece and her staff to bring in better athletes, and we hope the softball players can feel like this upgrade is further backing for the work they are putting in and their efforts through Christ.”