By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Despite the fact that they're not playing in the same district, a Strasburg-Central game is always something special for both teams, and Wednesday's girls softball matchup was no exception.
The Rams won 10-6, but it was a game filled with excitement and positives for both teams.
"We definitely wanted to win," Central's Brea Hinegardner said. "But we also wanted to get some of our younger pitchers [the] experience of playing a big game against an arch-rival on the road. We have two district games this week and they're obviously more important at this point."
Central started Makayla Hosaflook, and the freshman struggled at times in the pitching circle. She took the loss, giving up eight runs on six hits through two innings. Four of those runs, however, were unearned.
"I was really nervous out there," Hosaflook said. "They're our rival, and as a freshman I'm not used to starting in a game like this. I've started before, but it's not the same as starting against Strasburg."
Strasburg starting pitcher Katlyn Ayers pitched a complete game and got the win. The Rams sophomore gave up six runs on seven hits, struck out three and walked six Central batters.
"This was really exciting," Ayers said. "They're a big rival; it was fun to get the win. It got a little nerve-racking out there at times, though."
The first four innings were nerve-racking, indeed. Both teams scored at least a run in the first four innings of play. The Falcons took an early 1-0 lead after the first half-inning thanks to a Sarah Mastrangelo single to left that scored Allie Lockhart.
The Rams answered in their half of the inning with three runs of their own to take a 3-1 lead. Central tied the game 3-3 in the second. The key hit in the inning for the Falcons was an RBI triple to right center by Hosaflook. The Falcons freshman was a perfect 1-for-1 at the plate with a pair of RBIs. Her second RBI came in the third on a sacrifice fly to center.
"I was really happy with the way I hit the ball tonight," Hosaflook said. "I've been [in] something of a slump, and it felt good to get a couple of well-hit balls."
The Rams broke the game open with a four-run second, and the Falcons were never able to recover. Brooklyn Rush got an RBI single in the inning, but the rest of Strasburg's runs came from Central miscues in the field. The result was a commanding 7-3 Rams lead.
"Our bats really responded well," Falcons coach Jill Yew said. "They've just come around for us in the last two games. We made some good plays in the field, too, but we also failed to make some plays that really hurt us."
Central battled back by scoring runs in both the third and fourth innings, but so did the Rams.
After the fourth, Ayers settled down and only allowed one run through the next three innings.
The Falcons were far from displeased with the effort they got from their young pitchers. Lockhart replaced Hosaflook after two innings and allowed just one run on three hits through two innings. Hinegardner, Central's normal starter, finished the game, allowing one run on two hits in the final two innings.
"I thought that our two young pitchers did well, considering everything," Yew said. "Makayla is a freshman and she's still working through getting used to starting in varsity play. Allie is typically not a pitcher, but she came in and threw strikes."
Hinegardner had a big night at the plate, connecting for two doubles and an RBI.
Strasburg also had its share of big hitters for the night. Tiffany Milgrim was 3-for-4, scored two runs and had two RBIs. Siaura Saville wasn't far behind, going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and a run. In all, seven Rams batters got hits for the night. Casey Spiker, Rush, and Ayers had two hits each.
"Seeing three pitchers in one game is never easy," Milgrim said. "But I thought that we all adjusted well to that. Getting all of those hits and runs was really exciting, especially when it comes against a rival like Central."