By Tommy Keeler Jr.
BERRYVILLE -- Sometimes it's simply all about the belt.
With a brand new belt, Central sophomore Bekah Ansbro felt good in the circle against Clarke County on Wednesday. Ansbro and all of her teammates had plenty of reasons to feel good after their 4-1 Bull Run District softball victory over the Eagles.
Ansbro said her old belt matched her travel team uniform, but it was the best that she had, but her new blue belt, which Central JV baseball coach John Cardemone got for her, matched perfectly with her Central uniform.
"It's going to sound ridiculous, but I got a new belt for my uniform and I think it sounds preposterous, but it just kind of cleared my mind. I felt a little fresher," Ansbro said. "We have a big sign in our dugout that says 'you look good., feel good, play good.' So it kind of bounced off of that."
Ansbro struck out eight and allowed only four hits as the Falcons picked up their first win over Clarke County in at least four years.
The Falcons helped Ansbro out in the first inning. Shennan Waldron doubled with one out, and Kessa Hawkins followed with a single. Sydney Plum followed with a sacrifice fly to give Central a 1-0 lead.
"We came out strong and that's what leads to big wins like this," Central senior Mary Wakeman said. "If you come out slow most teams will take advantage of you, and I think that's what we did tonight."
Central added two more runs in the top of the third inning. Brooke Sager led off with an infield single, and Wakeman followed with a bunt single. A sacrifice fly by Waldron moved both runners over a base, and then a wild pitch scored both Waldron and Wakeman to extend the lead to 3-0.
Wakeman said she even surprised Central coach Lisa Rhodes when she kept running and scored from second base.
"I take a big lead, and so when I saw [Clarke County catcher Alex Jackson] was down on her knees and didn't know where the ball was, I just took advantage of that," Wakeman said.
An Allie Hicks RBI cut the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth, but the Falcons answered with a run in the top of the seventh.
That was more than enough for Ansbro, who struck out the side to end the game.
"She was solid and the girls respond to her presence out there," Rhodes said of Ansbro. "She's just solid. She keeps the same expression, the same tone, the same force. She's just consistent and solid out there."
Allie Hicks led the Eagles with two hits and an RBI. Wakeman led the Falcons with two hits and an RBI.
With the win Central clinched the top seed in next week's Conference 28 tournament, and will have a bye in the first round. The Falcons have won 14 of their last 16 games.
Wakeman was part of Central's run to the Group 3A state semifinals in girls basketball, and said she feels like the Falcons can do big things in softball as well.
"In basketball we didn't really expect to go as far as we did, and I think with this team I'm actually expecting more than I was with basketball," Wakeman said. "So, I'm pretty excited, and I definitely think we got a conference title under our belts. I don't want to be too cocky, but I think were really coming together as a team.
"From here on out it's going to be tough, but I think we got it."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd