GOSHEN, Ind. — Alexis Carpenter allowed two earned runs in 10 innings on the pitching rubber and Taylor Sutliff made her first career home run count with a grand slam, but the Goshen College softball team was upended in both ends of a softball doubleheader Tuesday, losing 6-3 and 9-6 to Grace College.
Grace (23-20, 16-12 Crossroads League) started the scoring early in the first game, using a double and two singles to knock in two runs in the top of the third.
Carpenter held the Lancers to three singles over the next 29 batters, with the hits all coming in different innings. That left her teammates time to get a run in the fourth inning, when Sandra Rodriguez followed a one-out Candace Sutter triple with an RBI single.
The Maple Leafs (9-23, 6-20) would level the score in the fifth inning after catcher Sydney Stein led off with a single in front of the center fielder. After a passed ball, a wild pitch and a walk, Stein crossed the plate on a Courtney Crapser groundout.
The walk was the 50th of Krista Sutliff's career, tying the all-time Maple Leaf record set by 2003 alumna Candy Feare. Goshen's lone senior broke the record outright in her next plate appearance with a one-out free pass in the seventh inning.
Sutter finished that inning at third base and Grace would get a runner to the final station in the sixth, but neither team plated a run in regulation or the first two extra innings as the score remained tied 2-2. Per Crossroads League policy, each half of the 10th inning began with a runner on second base.
Lancer leadoff hitter Hannah Herbster reached on an infield single before the go-ahead run scored on a sacrifice bunt and throwing error to put Grace up 3-2. After a strikeout, Clarissa Knight sacrificed home a run on a squeeze play before a pinch-hit two-run single put the Lancers ahead 6-2.
The Maple Leafs got one run back on a Sutter single, but the four unearned runs of the 10th frame proved too much to overcome. Sutter and Rodriguez each finished with a game-high two hits, while Stein scored two of the team's three runs.
Herbster and Abby Mozingo each finished 2 for 5 for Grace, with Herbster coming around to score on both occasions. Relief pitcher Hannah England picked up the win after tossing six innings of three-hit relief; Carpenter was tagged with the loss despite not allowing an earned run in her last seven innings. She threw 162 pitches in the complete game.
The 10-inning opener pushed the first pitch of game two back to 6:10 p.m. local time and turned the game into a fairly literal nightcap: the final pitch would be thrown at 8:24 p.m., three minutes before the upper edge of the sun dropped below the horizon.
Goshen seemed determined to make quick work of the opener, using Taylor Sutliff's line drive over the left-field fence to take a 4-0 lead. Grace got its first run an inning later on an Elaina McClellan sacrifice fly, but it would be canceled out by a Sandra Rodriguez homer in the third that put Goshen up 5-1.
Each team scored again in the fourth, with McClellan adding another sac fly and Emily Namisnak grounding out to knock in the Maple Leafs' Brianna Sherman.
The Lancers put their first two batters of the sixth on base after an infield single and an unsuccessful fielder's choice, bringing in the first run on a groundout one batter later. A double and a throwing error each brought in runs to close the score to 6-5 before McClellan scored on a single off the center-field fence to tie the score.
Herbster scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error in the seventh inning before a single and a squeeze play plated two more runs to put the Lancers up 9-6. In the bottom of the inning, Crapser and Jenna Thompson each singled to bring the tying run to the plate with one out before two groundouts ended the game.
Herbster took the win for Grace after throwing two innings in relief: Brooke Maes started and threw 6 1/3 innings for Goshen to earn the loss.
Mozingo and Knight each racked up a game-high three hits and scored three times for the Lancers. Crapser, Thompson and Brianna Sherman added two hits apiece for Goshen, with Taylor Sutliff driving in a game-high four runs and Rodriguez scoring twice.
The losses prevented Goshen from gaining ground on Mount Vernon Nazarene, which dropped both ends of a doubleheader at Saint Francis (also losing once in 10 innings).
MVNU, which is 8-20, leads 6-20 Goshen by one game for the final spot in the Crossroads League tournament as each school has eight games remaining. Since the Cougars own the tiebreaker over Goshen, GC would need to outplay MVNU by two games over the next 11 days to reach the postseason.
Goshen returns to action on Saturday in a doubleheader at Huntington with first pitch set for 1 p.m