By Brad Fauber
WOODSTOCK - Central's softball team could've easily looked past visiting Rappahannock County on Tuesday evening.
With a big district game against George Mason coming up on Friday and the Falcons' four-team tournament to follow on Saturday, Central has plenty to look forward to. But the Falcons made sure to take care of business on Tuesday first.
Central got a dominating combined pitching effort from senior Sydney Plum and sophomore Bekah Ansbro, who didn't allow a hit in the win, and the Falcons used an opportunistic offense to roll to a 13-0 win over the Panthers that ended in five innings due to the mercy rule.
"From the very beginning, even in warm-ups, we were having crisp throws and catching the ball and weren't making very many mistakes, so I knew from that point on that we were definitely going to be top notch tonight," Plum said.
Plum made sure the Falcons weren't going to suffer a letdown against Rappahannock County, as the senior tossed three shutout innings without allowing a Panther to reach base. Plum also struck out eight of the nine batters she faced in the 37-pitch outing.
"I didn't try to be fancy. That's what coach said, don't try too hard, just hit your spots, which I did," said Plum, who struck eight consecutive batters. "I went in and out constantly and just tried to keep them off-balance."
Central's (2-1, 1-0 Bull Run) offense backed Plum's outing with plenty of run support. The Falcons got to Rappahannock County (0-3, 0-3) starting pitch Lisa Leidenheimer quickly in the first inning, as they scored five runs on four hits and three walks.
Mary Wakeman and Morgan Davis started the bottom of the first inning by drawing back-to-back walks, and senior Katelyn Poston drove both of them in on a triple to right field.
Plum then reached on walk, and freshman Shennan Waldron (2-for-3) hit an RBI single to score Poston. Plum also scored on the play as she scampered home following Waldron's aggressive baserunning that drew a throw to second base.
Sophomore Mariyah Viar (2-2, double, RBI) capped the scoring in the first with an RBI single to center field.
"We adjusted to the speed really well," Falcons coach Lisa Rhodes said. "I was really impressed with our baserunning as well. I see that improving with each game, which is good, because really only experience on the bases can teach you what you need to be a good baserunner."
The Falcons added five more runs in the bottom of the second inning on three more hits and three Panther errors to take a 10-0 lead. Ansbro tallied an RBI single in the inning, while a handful of other Central batters drove in runs on groundballs.
Central scored three more runs in the bottom of the third off Rappahannock County reliever Maddie Kopjanski.
Ansbro replaced Plum in the pitching circle to open the top of the fourth inning, and she immediately dealt a walk to Leidenheimer to start the frame. But Ansbro retired the next three batters -- including a pair of strikeouts -- and worked an uneventful fifth inning to seal the win. Ansbro finished with three strikeouts.
"We have a long end of the week and I wanted to make sure that I didn't overwork any pitchers tonight," Rhodes said. "I wanted to make sure that they both got some time so they didn't overwork themselves."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com