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Ignition trouble: Falcons' offense misfires in defeat

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Central catcher Mikayla Viar prepares to tag out Madison County’s Casey Racer at home plate during Tuesday’s game in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Central pitcher Sydney Plum fires a pitch during Central’s game against Madison County on Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Central shortstop Allie Lockhart catches a fly ball at second base while Madison County's Kaitlin Aylor looks on during Tuesday's game in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Tommy Keeler Jr. - tkeeler@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- Central coach Marty Bundrick changed his lineup around for the Falcons game against Madison County, hoping to ignite the Falcons' offense.

Unfortunately for Central, it didn't work. The Falcons managed only three hits in a 3-0 Bull Run District loss to the Mountaineers on Tuesday.

"We just didn't get the hits when we needed them," Bundrick said. "We're making contact with the ball, just not where we need to be. The last two games we've faced two of the best pitchers. I think we'll be all right against the rest of the district."

The Mountaineers (11-5, 8-2 Bull Run) didn't waste any time in taking the lead. Lead-off hitter Casey Racer blasted a home run off Central pitcher Sydney Plum to give Madison County a 1-0 lead.

"I just hung it a little and didn't put it where it was supposed to be," Plum said. "I didn't do my job tonight like I needed to."

Plum then walked Timberly Deane. After striking out Karri Carpenter, Lauren Seale singled and then a wild pitch scored Deane for a 2-0 lead.

"That home run was really big for us," Madison County coach Jesse Yowell said. "It really gave the team a lift. It was nice getting those runs in the first. Our offense is where we've struggled a little this year."

After the first inning, Plum settled down. The Mountaineers managed only five hits the rest of the way. Plum struck out three, and allowed her defense to make plays behind her. The Falcons had no errors in the loss.

Central's pitching and defense did enough to keep the Falcons in the game, but the offense just couldn't get going.

Central senior Taylor Cooper had two of the Falcons' three hits, but was left stranded both times.

Central's biggest threat off Seale came in the seventh inning. Allie Lockhart singled with one out. Mary Wakeman reached on an error, putting runners on the corners. Seale then got Morgan Davis to pop out and struck out Caitlin Cummins to end the game.

Seale struck out eight and walked only two.

"[Seale] pitched a great game," Yowell said. "And our defense was pretty solid. I was happy with the way we played."

Central (9-7, 6-4 Bull Run) entered last Friday's game with Clarke County with seven players hitting over .300. In the last two games they have had only six hits.

"I think it's all in our heads," Plum said of the team's offensive struggles. "We have to be confident when we go up to the plate that we can hit it."

The Falcons have faced two really strong pitchers in their last two games, but plum said that shouldn't matter.

"Any pitcher is hittable," Plum said. "We just have to believe that we can do it. It all comes down to confidence."

Racer, Seale and Atwell each had two hits to lead the Mountaineers.

The win keeps Madison County all alone in second, while the Falcons are tied for third with William Monroe two games back.

Bundrick said he is still very proud of his team, and confident they will get out of their hitting slump.

"I have all the confidence in the world in this team," Bundrick said. "I know these kids are not quitters, and I'm not going to quit on them. The last eight games we've been very consistent. We just need to work on a few little things and we'll be fine."

Plum said the team is still confident about the rest of the season.

"Third is not as good as second, but nobody should overlook us," Plum said of the district standings. "We can still work our way back up there. It's still anyone's game."

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