By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WOODSTOCK -- Central and George Mason started the Bull Run District season off with a pitcher's duel, but in the end the Mustangs got the biggest hit when they needed it.
George Mason scored two runs in the fifth inning and held on for a 2-1 softball win over the Falcons.
George Mason freshman pitcher Julia Ferris was dominant for the Mustangs, yielding only three hits to the Falcons.
"It's great having her," George Mason coach Brian Fowler said. "We actually have three freshman that we're excited about making a difference for us. Our one-two combination of pitcher-catcher are pretty good right now."
Ferris struck out 16 for the Mustangs and kept the Falcons off balance throughout the game.
She struck out all but two of Central's hitters.
"She mixed it up very well," Central's Sydney Plum said. "She was a good pitcher and you can't take that away from her."
The Mustangs took the lead in the top of the fifth. Central starting pitcher Mary Wakeman walked George Mason's Annie Ferguson and Allie Plata, and had two runners on with two outs for Quinn Sheehy.
Sheehy then slapped a shot to the left-field fence for a two-run triple.
"Having a slap hitter is helpful -- it gives a different look," Fowler said. "It gave us a different look, and she got the bat on it."
Central (1-1) had a runner on third in both the first and third innings.
In the bottom of the third the Falcons had their best opportunity to strike. Central's Katelin Kline singled with one out. Wakeman singled, and a throwing error moved Kline to third. After Wakeman stole second, Ferris struck out Bekah Ansbro and Mikayla Viar to end the threat.
In the top of the seventh, the Falcons finally got on the scoreboard. Plum led off and drilled a pitch over the center-field fence to cut the lead to 2-1.
"I needed to get on base and make something happen," Plum said. "She was mixing it up pretty good, so I knew I had to be on my toes. I was hoping she'd give me something close."
It was the third home run for Plum in two games this season for the Falcons.
"Sydney was pretty clutch," Central coach Lisa Rhodes said. "Her stick is solid. She's so consistent offensively."
Wakeman and Plum combined to throw a four hitter. Wakeman pitched five innings, allowing three hits and striking out seven. Plum pitched two innings in relief, allowing one hit and striking out three.
On Wednesday, Ansbro, a freshman, threw a five-inning no-hitter in a 20-0 win against Stonewall Jackson. Rhodes said she's not sure how the pitching rotation will work this season, and she will just take it one game at a time.
"We've been blessed with a deep pitching rotation," Rhodes said. "[When you have pitching depth] you can play it one game at a time. You can literally do what you need to do one game at a time, when you're blessed with that."
Sheehy had two hits to lead the Mustangs. Fowler, a first-year coach, said it was a great start to the season for his squad.
"Success breeds success," Fowler said. "If you can get a couple good games under your belt, have a little confidence, who knows what can happen."
Despite the loss, the Falcons have plenty of reasons to feel good about the rest of the season.
"They're great girls and they're really working hard," Rhodes said. "And I think it's going to pay off for them."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or email@example.com