By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WOODSTOCK -- Clarke County coach Susan Grubbs knows her softball team will have to score more runs this season, after losing pitcher Sarah Herndon to graduation last year. On Thursday night against Central, the Eagles showed they should be just fine this season without Herndon.
Clarke County was strong on the base paths from start to finish as the Eagles knocked off Central, 9-1, in Bull Run District softball action.
"We don't have the dominant pitching that we've had with Sarah Herndon," Grubbs said. "But we're emphasizing trying to manufacture runs We're emphasizing good defense. Our defense is making some good plays."
The Eagles showed they were willing to do the little things right from the start. Freshman Kendall Benoit led off with a bunt single off Central starter Sydney Plum. Benoit then stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Fellow freshman Tifani Adams drew a walk, and then Benoit scored on a double steal.
Lexi Call drew a walk, and after another stolen base, Adams scored on a wild pitch to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.
"I talked to the girls after the game about the little things, and how important those little things are inning to inning," Central coach Lisa Rhodes said. "And how that was what let us down was the little things that have to happen."
The Falcons had an opportunity in the bottom of the first. Central senior Katelyn Poston doubled with two outs, and Plum drew an intentional walk. However, the threat ended when Shennan Waldron's well hit line drive was caught by Call at shortstop.
The Eagles (3-0, 2-0 Bull Run) added three more in the top of the third. Adams led off with a double and went to third on a wild pitch. Allie Hicks drew a one-out walk, and Adams scored on a wild pitch. Carrie Gibson drew a walk and both Hicks and Gibson stole a base to move to second and third. A bloop single by Morgan Ottobre stretched the lead to 5-0.
"At the bat we have a good mix of speed and power, and we're just trying to manufacture runs any way we can," Grubbs said. "We're going to need to score runs to win games."
The Eagles added another run in the top of the fourth, but Central responded in the bottom half of the inning.
Plum led off with a triple and scored on a bunt single by Waldron to cut the lead to 6-1.
Plum threw four innings for the Falcons, striking out five and allowing four hits. Bekah Ansbro pitched the last three for the Falcons, allowing three hits and striking out seven.
The Falcons (1-1, 0-1 Bull Run) had a rally going in the bottom of the seventh. Ansbro and Mariyah Viar had back-to-back one-out singles. Mary Wakeman followed with a bunt single to load the bases. However, the Eagles ended the rally by turning a double play to end the game.
Adams and Ottobre led the Eagles with two hits each. Grubbs said she was very pleased with how Sarah Miller pitched. The junior scattered eight hits and had only the one intentional walk. The Eagles are now 3-0, after losing a lot to graduation last season.
"It's a good start to the season," Grubbs said. "I'm real pleased. We try to never have to rebuild, because we did lose a lot last year. But these girls have come in and worked their tails off, and done a great job for me and really want to work hard as a team."
Plum led the Falcons with a triple and a double at the plate.
Rhodes said playing the Eagles was a good learning experience for her team.
"You learn a whole lot more for these games than you do slaughter's, the big wins, you really do," Rhodes said. "It takes a few of these to open your eyes to what you need to push yourself for, what you really need to work on."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or email@example.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd