By Robert Edmonds - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK--A pitching duel turned into an onslaught Monday night when Central hosted Strasburg in Bull Run District tournament action.
Battling for a chance to move onto the district semifinals, both pitchers were stellar early on in their matchup. Things changed quickly, however, in the bottom half of the sixth inning when Central rallied to score nine runs breaking the game open as they went on to victory, 10-2.
"Our bats were asleep early on," Central pitcher Mary Wakeman said. "We had a pretty long break, and I knew it was just a matter of time until our offense came alive."
Both Wakeman and Strasburg's Jordi Kump kept their opponents from threatening most of the night. When they did find trouble their defense was there to back them up.
Through the first five innings, both pitchers only allowed one run each. The biggest threat early came from the Rams when they loaded the bases in the top of the second inning with only one out.
Wakeman struck out Marissa Doman, and then induced Kasey Fauber into a groundout to escape the inning while giving up her only run of the night.
Central responded in the bottom of the inning to tie the game before exploding in the sixth.
Knotted at one, Central's Sydney Plum hit a monster home run to leadoff the bottom of the inning and ignite the rally. Mikayla Viar walked and then scored on a double by Allie Lockhart. Katelyn Poston and Caitlin Cummins would later connect on back-to-back RBI doubles increasing the margin to 5-1.
"They say hitting is contagious," Plum said. "We usually get off to a late start and once we got going everyone got involved. I can't take all the credit because everyone was getting hits and doing what we needed to do."
After the team added another run when pinch-hitter Jessica Rodriguez drove in Cummins the Falcons loaded the bases forcing the Rams into a pitching change. Plum came to bat with the bases full against reliever Tori Conner.
Despite facing a different pitcher than in her first at-bat in the inning, Plum delivered with similar results clearing the bases with a grand slam to left field and extending the lead to nine runs.
"I've been in kind of a slump lately," Plum said. "I haven't been able to help the team out the way I want to at the plate, and tonight definitely helped my confidence with that."
Conner managed to stop the bleeding, only facing two batters the rest of the inning, but the damage had been done.
The Rams managed to score a run in the top of the seventh when Fauber led the inning off with a single and then rounded the basepaths on three passed balls. It simply wasn't enough, though, as Wakeman finished with a complete game seven strikeout performance leading Central to the district semifinals on Wednesday. The win helps guarantee the Falcons will be playing in the regional tournament.
"This is only the second time in school history that we have advanced to regionals," Falcons coach Marty Bundrick said. "We went a couple of years ago, but we hope to go a little farther this time. I think with this group of girls the limits are endless. We have good bats and they stay focused on what they need to do."
Despite the loss, Rams coach Suzanne Mathias remained positive about her team's performance and finish to the season.
"You never want to end your season with a losing record, but I am satisfied with the way we have come out the last couple of games to finish the season," Mathias said. "They left their hearts on the field tonight, we just came up short."