Ansbro tosses one-hitter as Falcons top Dragons

By Brad Fauber

WOODSTOCK — Central sophomore pitcher Bekah Ansbro found herself in a little bit of a jam in the top of the seventh inning against visiting William Monroe on Thursday evening.

Ansbro, who had breezed through the first six innings and entered the seventh with a comfortable eight-run lead, suddenly faced a bases-loaded situation with no outs after she issued a pair of walks around a Falcons error. The jam prompted Central head coach Lisa Rhodes to stroll out to the circle, where she asked Ansbro a simple question.

“I said, ‘What do you want to throw?,'” Rhodes said.

Ansbro’s response was equally simple — she wanted to throw rise balls. Utilizing her go-to pitch, Ansbro followed the mound visit by striking out William Monroe’s Hannah Carpenter, but Ansbro lost a 12-pitch battle with Leanna Lamb, who worked a walk to plate the Green Dragons’ first run of the game.

Ansbro then responded by retiring the next two batters to seal Central’s 8-1 victory over William Monroe. Ansbro, like she has all season, relied on her rise ball often against the Green Dragons, and she held William Monroe to just one hit and four walks while striking out 11.

“All I have to say is that a rise ball is a pitcher’s best friend and a hitter’s worst enemy,” said Ansbro, who improved to 5-0 this season.

“They’re the first team that has picked up that it is a rise ball,” she added. “A lot of teams have thought it’s a high pitch. They knew it was coming, so it felt really good that even though they knew, I still got them with it. But they were fouling them off, popping them up, whiffing on them — it just felt good tonight.”

Ansbro was outstanding for most of the night, and she retired 14 straight at one point after giving up a two-out triple to Dragons sophomore Makayla Morris in the top of the first inning.

Central (7-2, 5-2 Bull Run) backed its ace with plenty of offense. The Falcons tallied 14 hits against William Monroe, and eight of Central’s nine starters recorded at least one base hit.

“Good all around effort. Honestly the hitting is what impressed me the most tonight,” Rhodes said. “They really came out and brought the sticks out tonight. And they were really aggressive — at times overly aggressive — on the bases, but I tell them I’d rather them be overly aggressive than not aggressive enough.”

That aggressiveness paid off for the Falcons early against Carpenter, who started in the pitching circle for William Monroe (4-4, 4-4). Central senior Katelyn Poston reached on an error to lead off the bottom of the second inning and came around to score the game’s first run on a stolen base and two wild pitches. In the third inning, Mary Wakeman and Morgan Davis (2-for-4, RBI) opened the inning with back-to-back singles before each scored on two more wild pitches.

“They’re becoming more aware of how important it is to be aware every single pitch,” Rhodes said.

Poston (2-for-4, RBI) gave the Falcons a 4-0 lead in the third inning, as her ground-ball single to center field off Dragons reliever McKenzie Flora plated junior Kessa Hawkins.

Central added four more runs in the fifth inning to blow the game open. Ansbro and Poston opened the frame with back-to-back singles, and a bunt single by Tatyana Anderson loaded the bases with one out.

Ansbro scored on a fielder’s choice by Kylie Stottlemyer, but Poston was tagged out between third and home for the inning’s second out on the play. A bunt single by Wakeman (3-for-4, two runs) loaded the bases again, and Davis’ RBI single to right gave Central a 6-0 lead.

Hawkins then delivered a two-run single to center field to give the Falcons an 8-0 lead.

“I just pictured my dad up there like he’s always told me to do, and I remembered head down and knob to the ball. I just took my pitch,” said Hawkins, who was 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk.

“They were being patient,” Rhodes said. “Sometimes they can really get anxious and kind of get themselves in a hole early unnecessarily. Getting in there and being patient and making the pitcher work really worked to their advantage today.”

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD