By Jeff Nations
WOODSTOCK -- Just a freshman, Central's Rebekah Ansbro can look forward to many future games playing varsity softball for the Falcons.
She's bound to have her moments, too, but topping this week could be tough for Ansbro.
On Thursday, she started in the pitching circle and fired a five-inning perfect game against Rappahannock County. Then on Friday night, Ansbro cracked her first high school home run to lead off the bottom of the third inning against county rival Strasburg. That blast was the first of five straight Central hits in the inning, which produced a three-run rally that helped the Falcons pick up an 8-2 victory.
"It was really exciting," Ansbro said of her first homer, a solo shot to left field off Strasburg starting pitcher Carey Scott. "I've hit one in travel ball before, but I haven't been able to hit one in high school before. It was great."
Central (9-7, 6-5 Bull Run District) got a solid all-around effort from starting pitcher Sydney Plum, who fired a complete game for the win and crushed a two-run homer as part of a four-run fourth inning. The home run was Plum's seventh this season, but afterward she was more interested in welcoming Ansbro to the Falcons' burgeoning "home run club."
"Sydney really stepped up today, she did a really great job both offensively and defensively," Central coach Lisa Rhodes said. "She hit her spots, she had her change-up working for her. She did a great job."
The Falcons spotted Plum a one-run lead in the bottom of the first, when Katelyn Poston poked a one-out single to left, stole second and later scored on an error.
Then came the third, when Ansbro led off with her home run. Mary Wakeman, Poston and Morgan Davis followed with three straight singles to load the bases, and Plum drove in a pair of runs with a long single to center field. Scott settled down nicely after that, getting three straight outs to strand a pair of runners.
In the fourth, the Falcons struck again. Katelin Kline led off with a double off Rams reliever Tori Conner, and then moved to third when Ansbro reached on an error. Kline scored on a wild pitch to put her team up 5-0. Davis plated another run with an RBI single, and then Plum unloaded on a first-pitch offering for a two-run homer.
"It's a county rival, so we were out for blood," Plum said. "We just wanted to win."
Strasburg (7-10, 5-6 Bull Run) played without head coach Suzanne Mathias, who was hung up in traffic on her way back from an out-of-state commitment. Assistant coach Kate Shifflett led the Rams in Mathias' absence.
"I think that [hitting] was our main struggle tonight," Shifflett said. "Overall our defense wasn't a problem, I didn't think. But hitting, I think it took us awhile to get on her and when we did get some hits, they were just kind of spread out and not in a row."
The Rams finally got to Plum in the sixth. Jordi Kump smacked a one-out single to center and Ashtyn Foddrell followed with a double to put runners at second and third. Kump then scored on a wild pitch before Foddrell came home on Makayla Peer's double down the right-field line.
That was all the damage the Rams could muster against Plum, who allowed those two runs off seven hits while striking out 10.
"They're good hitters, so I knew I had to mix up the speeds and change the spots on them," Plum said of Strasburg.
Foddrell and Scott had two hits apiece to lead the Rams.
Plum, Poston, Davis and Ansbro had two hits each for Central. The Falcons totaled 11 hits off three Strasburg pitchers.
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com>