Plastow Makes History
History was made for Grace’s track and field team on the third day of competition at the NAIA Indoor National Championships on Friday.
Heather Plastow earned All-American status by placing fourth in the mile. She became the first female at Grace to be named NAIA All-American (indoor or outdoor) for an individual event.
Plastow’s time of 5:07.63 bettered her own school record by a second in the national finals.
“Heather has probably improved as much since high school as any athlete we’ve had in the women’s program,” said Grace head coach Jeff Raymond. “Today was a great breakthrough for her on a national stage. Coach Jake Poyner has done a great job guiding her to this point as well.”
Additionally, Mallory Hiatt competed in the finals of the 5,000-meter run after qualifying through the preliminary race on Wednesday. The freshman ended in 13th place with a time of 18:54.14, capping off a stellar indoor season.
The men will end their indoor season on Saturday with the final events. Isaac Brown will compete in the high jump, and Bryan Hernandez-Rios will run in the 3,000. Two relay events (distance medley, 4×800) will also race for the Lancers.
Concordia Softball 5, Grace 3
Madonna 1, Grace 0
Aquinas 7, Grace 0
Grace’s softball team came up empty on Friday, falling in a tripleheader in Michigan.
The Lady Lancers played three games in rapid succession, gaining valuable experience during an usual start to the year. Grace played indoor on a turf field in South Lyon, Mich.
The first game of the day started early with the first pitch set for 7 a.m. against Concordia. Grace struggled to get on the scoreboard early, going scoreless for the first three innings.
The Cardinals erupted with four runs in the third and another in the fourth, and Grace was unable to rally in the 5-3 defeat.
Jeri Ellis tossed the first 4.1 innings from the mound, and Alyssa Swangin pitched a scoreless 1.2 innings of relief.
Laikyn Lowe batted 1 for 3 with a home run and two RBIs, and Elena Rolley was 1 for 3 with a run driven in. Lowe’s home run was the first of her collegiate career. Jessica Kaurich and Ashley Beckler each doubled.
Almost immediately after the Concordia game, Grace played its second game of the morning against Madonna. The Crusaders, who are receiving votes in the NAIA Top 25, narrowly won in a pitchers’ duel 1-0.
Dori Knight was electric for the Lady Lancers. The senior threw a complete game, giving up one run on seven hits. Knight recorded eight shutouts in a memorable performance.
But the Lady Lancers could not generate support behind Knight to record the upset win.
Grace had eight hits in the game, one more than the Crusaders, but the Lady Lancers could not string together their hits to score a run.
The Lady Lancers had runners in scoring position in the first, second, fourth, fifth and seventh innings, but each time Grace came up empty.
Carly Ruiz finished 2 for 3, and Ellis and Kaurich each doubled.
Grace’s bats remained cold in the final outing of the day, a 7-0 defeat to Aquinas. Grace was only outhit 7-5, but the Saints scored seven quick runs to win.
Madison Bremer was the pitcher for Grace, striking out four in four innings. Britney Young, Emily Revercomb and Bethany Gardner were each 1 for 2.
The Lady Lancers will rest this weekend before embarking on the home opener on Tuesday. Grace will host Concordia at 1 p.m. at Coach Phil Dick Field, marking Grace’s first home game since April 27, 2019.
Grace Men’s Tennis 5, Cumberland 2
Grace’s men’s tennis team added another marquee win to a sensational season on Friday.
The No. 19 Lancers took down No. 21 Cumberland (Tenn.) 5-2 to improve to 18-5 on the season. Grace has now won six matches against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the NAIA.
Grace set the tone for the win by taking the doubles’ point. Max Rozas and Fabricio Galvan (No. 2) won 6-3, and Mauricio Corty and Ivan Antinori (No. 3) cruised 6-2.
The Lancers then routed the Phoenix in singles, claiming four of the six courts in straight sets. Rozas (No. 1) and David Sandi (No. 2) won quickly at the top two singles’ courts. Facundo Paredes (No. 3) and Ramiro Candia (No. 5) followed suit in their matchups to wrap up the victory.
The Lancers’ trip south will end on Saturday. Grace plays a doubleheader against Blue Mountain and Martin Methodist.
Grace Baseball 5, Bethel 2
Bethel 7, Grace 0
The Crossroads League season got underway for Grace’s baseball team on Friday.
The Lancers started a four-game series with Bethel, winning the opener 5-2 and losing the second game 7-0.
The series is being played at Prasco Park (Mason, Ohio); a second doubleheader will follow on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.
Grace was led by sharp pitching in the first game on Friday thanks to Houston Haney and Evan Etchison.
Haney went six innings as the starter, giving Grace a golden opportunity with his solid outing. Haney allowed just two runs over six innings, adding six strikeouts.
The Lancers led 5-2 by the time Haney departed. Grace scored two in the fourth inning with alert base running, and the Lancers scored three more in the sixth thanks to a two-out, two-run single from Austin Carr.
Etchison handled the rest in relief. The freshman hurler tossed scoreless innings in the seventh, eighth and ninth to record a three-inning save. Etchison struck out four, walked one and did not allow a hit in an impressive league debut.
Along with earning the win from the mound, Haney also hit 2 for 3 with two doubles. RJ Snyder stole two bases, got two singles and scored a run, and Carr was 1 for 3 with two RBIs.
Grace’s offense was silenced in the second game. The Lancers managed just two hits and one walk offensively in the shutout.
Chris Griffin hit 1 for 3 with a double, and Snyder was 1 for 3 with a stolen base.
Jake Decker was Grace’s most effective pitcher, tossing 3.1 scoreless innings of relief.