By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STRASBURG -- Strasburg softball coach Suzanne Mathias has seen her team do the same thing in way too many games this season. The Rams fall behind, and then have a rally that comes up short. The trend continued on Wednesday afternoon against Page County.
The Panthers built an early lead and held on for a 10-6 non-district win over the Rams.
"I think if we can play like we've finished the last couple games, then the outcome would be different in the games," Mathias said. "If I could get 21 strong outs from them, I would be very pleased."
The Panthers took advantage of a couple Strasburg miscues to take an early lead. Page County's Caitlin Viafora reached on an error and was driven in by an RBI single from Allison Breeden. Later in the inning, an RBI single by Leah Wilcher gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead.
"We're making some errors in the field that are some easy plays," Mathias said. "And if you give them an extra out, or an extra runner, you're usually going to come out on the losing end of that."
A solo home run by Breeden in the top of the third inning extended the lead for the Panthers.
Page County took command of the game in the top of the fourth with four runs. With two outs, Page County's Lauren Kite singled off Strasburg starting pitcher Carey Scott. Alyssa Rodgers followed with an RBI double. Viafora reached on an infield single, and Breeden followed with a two-run single for a 6-0 lead. The Panthers added another run on a wild pitch in the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, Strasburg's Nikki Killen hit a solo home run to cut the lead to 7-1.
Page County (6-1) added a run in the fifth and the sixth innings to extend the lead to 9-1. The Rams (3-4, 1-1 Bull Run) then made their rally.
In the bottom of the sixth, Scott and Killen each reached on an error with one out. They each stole a base to move into scoring position. Strasburg sophomore Ashtyn Foddrell then drilled a pitch over the center-field fence for a three-run homer to cut the lead to 9-4.
"I knew it was going out as soon as I hit it, because I just felt it," Foddrell said. "I was just really excited because that helped us get some more runs to get closer to winning the game."
The Rams had a chance to inch even closer in the inning. Strasburg's Lexi Schlag singled to keep the inning going, but a double play on a grounder by Tori Conner ended the threat.
Page County added another run in the top of the seventh, and the Rams rallied in their last at-bat.
Strasburg's Dani Swafford reached second on a single and an error. With two outs, Jordi Kump's RBI double cut the lead to 10-5. Scott followed with a single, and another Panther error allowed Kump to score and cut the deficit to 10-6.
Page County pitcher Kare Breeden induced a groundout by Killen to end the game.
Kare Breeden was making her first-ever varsity start as a pitcher as the Panthers lost their normal starter -- Kayla Dean -- to an injury last week. Page County coach Alan Knight said he was pleased with how Kare Breeden pitched, but the Panthers defense, which committed six errors, has to improve.
"I'm not one to be happy with six errors," Knight said. "It's something we'll continue to work on. We gotta help the pitcher out."
Allison Breeden led the Panthers with three hits and four RBIs, while Rodgers had two hits and two RBIs.
Strasburg has a very young squad this season, with a combined four freshmen and sophomores starting.
Foddrell said she has plenty of confidence that her team will keep improving this season.
"I feel like we're a really good team, and could do well in the long run," Foddrell said. "But I feel like we need to stay up as a team and cheer each other on more, instead of doing it at the last minute. We just need to work on it and work together as a team."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or email@example.com