By Tommy Keeler Jr.
With a blend of seniors and freshman, Central's softball team has good reason to feel optimistic about the season.
The Falcons have seniors and three freshmen, but they return nine players from a team that advanced to regionals last year.
Like most teams Central hasn't had a lot of outdoor practices, and several players missed the first two weeks of practice due to the success of the girls basketball team. Central coach Lisa Rhodes said she thinks the players have handled everything really well.
"We haven't had a lot of outdoor practices because of the weather -- that makes it harder," Rhodes said on Monday. "But we had a lot of really solid practices last week. And I think the girls have a really good dynamic, which I think helps when things like that are less than ideal."
The Falcons opened their season Monday with an 11-0 win, in which they pounded out 12 hits. Central senior Mary Wakeman had an inside-the-park homer, and sophomore Bekah Ansbro threw a two-hitter, striking out nine.
"I think that overall for the most part we were pretty fundamentally sound," Wakeman said after the game. "Our bats really came alive and we made some impressive plays in the field that I don't think we've ever had before."
The Falcons lost in the Group A, Division 2 regional quarterfinals last season to eventual state qualifier Dan River.
With four players from the basketball team on the softball team, the players are hoping that basketball momentum will carry over into softball season.
"I have high expectations for softball now," Wakeman said. "I think that the mentality is there for us this year since we know what it feels like and how good it feels to be recognized for something that's not commonly done. So, I think were going to use that to our advantage this season."
ITCHING TO PLAY: Warren County softball coach Justin Stock said his players are getting a bit antsy, and it's no surprise considering the Wildcats have yet to play a game this season.
The Wildcats have had their first four games postponed due to the weather, but are scheduled to host George Mason today at 7 p.m.
Stock said he thinks the experience his squad has, they have a lot of returning players from a regional semifinalist squad, will help them overcome the scheduling obstacles.
"We have a lot of returning players who have experience," Stock said on Wednesday afternoon. "They know what to do on defense, and on offense. They know our game plan. So I think our experience should really help us."
YOUNG GENERALS: Stonewall Jackson has a young softball squad this season, with only two seniors.
The Generals have two freshmen, including pitcher Madison Long. The Generals got off to a slow start against Central on Monday giving up nine runs in the first inning. However, they only allowed two runs the rest of the way, and Stonewall Jackson assistant coach Suzanne Rubenstein said she saw a lot of improvement from the Generals after the shaky start.
Rubenstein said the team has plenty to work, especially on offense.
"We really need to work on our short game," Rubenstein said on Monday. "We just need to put the bat on the ball."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd