By Tommy Keeler Jr.
For both Central and Skyline's softball teams, the Harry Combs Classic will be a chance to find out more about themselves and prepare for the rest of the season.
The Harry Combs Classic will be held today at Central, beginning at 11 a.m. in both softball and baseball.
The four-team tournament will give Central's softball team a chance to see teams that it wouldn't normally play.
"It's nice just to see different teams and different pitching and different batting," Central junior Sydney Plum said. "It helps us get ready for our district."
Central will play Millbrook at 11 a.m. in softball, while Skyline will take on Harrisonburg at 12:45 p.m. That will be followed by the consolation game at 2:30 p.m., and the championship game at 5 p.m.
Central's baseball team will play Curwensville (Pa.) at 11 a.m., followed by Millbrook and Broadway at 1:15 p.m. The consolation game will be at 3:45 p.m., followed by the championship game at 7 p.m.
Central's softball team is off to a tough 2-5 start, but most of the Falcons' losses have come to some of the top teams in their district or Group AA competition.
The tournament will be a chance for the Falcons to start to turn things around. It's also not the first time the Falcons have played two games in one day, as they hosted Warren County in a doubleheader earlier this season.
Central has used three different pitchers this season -- Plum, Rebekah Ansbro and Mary Wakeman -- which should help them today.
"We have a lot of depth, so I have confidence that we will do well," Central softball coach Lisa Rhodes said.
Skyline won the tournament last year, but lost some key players from last year's team. The Hawks will also be without pitcher Sarah Beamer, who had to go out of town for the weekend.
"Carrie Robinson will have to step up and pitch," Skyline coach Frank Nelson said. "And we'll see what happens."
The Hawks haven't missed a beat this season. Skyline is 3-3, but the Hawks are coming off a tough loss to James Wood on Thursday.
Nelson said he expects things to be tougher this season for his team, including the Harry Combs Classic.
"Last year we run-ruled everybody," Nelson said. "It's not going to be that way this year."
The long day can also be a good thing for team chemistry.
"It's fun," Skyline senior Allison Funk said. "You get to spend the whole day with your team, which is fun. Everybody gets along this year, so I'm really looking forward to that."
Central enters the baseball tournament on a roll. The Falcons are 6-1, including 3-0 in the Bull Run District this season.
The Falcons have been led by strong pitching and a solid defense. Central's John Plunkett and Hayden Bauserman have led the way on the mound.
Central's hitting has been improving as the season has unfolded, and Foltz feels good about his squad right now.
"They're a good group of kids," Foltz said. "They seem to do well together."
Curwensville won the tournament last year, beating Central in the championship game.
The tournament is very special to Foltz because of the bond he had with the late Harry Combs, who was a big supporter of Central athletics.
"Anything related to Harry Combs is dear to my heart," Foltz said. "I just hope that we can play well and that Harry's up there watching."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org