Ansbro to play for George Mason

Central junior Bekah Ansbro announced her commitment to play softball for George Mason University on Wednesday night. Ansbro pitched to a 15-2 record and a 0.81 ERA and struck out 199 batters in 126 innings for the Falcons in 2014. Rich Cooley/Daily file

Bekah Ansbro had dreamed it for years. Now she’s realizing that dream.

The Central High School junior and standout pitcher for the Falcons’ varsity softball team took a major step in the future of her blossoming softball career on Wednesday night when she announced her commitment to play for Division I George Mason University in 2016.

“It’s something I always dreamed of when I was a little girl,” Ansbro said on Thursday. “Of course, I always looked up to all of the other Division I softball players so it’s kind of crazy to think that maybe there will be a little girl in the stands watching me thinking the same thing.”

Ansbro’s verbal commitment to the Patriots came on the heels of the school’s recent scholarship offer. Ansbro chose not to disclose the specifics of the scholarship, but she did say that it was her only offer to date.

“I can say that even if I hadn’t gotten the same amount of money I still would certainly want to go there,” Ansbro said. “It’s one of the best schools I’ve visited.”

The junior, who will wait until October to sign her national letter of intent, said she first came in contact with the George Mason coaching staff when Patriots assistant coach Megan Blank reached out to her following her participation in the Champions Elite Fall Showcase Tournament with the Louisville (Kentucky) Lady Sluggers travel team in Atlanta this past fall.

Ansbro said she toured GMU’s campus for the first time in late November and met with Patriots head coach Joe Verbanic during that time, adding that everything about that first visit “just felt right.”

“I really like city campuses, which is kind of funny because my mom doesn’t. She’s more into the white pillars and white marble,” Ansbro said. “But I went for a tour and I loved how urban it was and they have a really great sports management program, which is what I’m looking to study. So the softball certainly stood out to me. It’s a very good team and coach Verbanic, the head coach, he just made me feel right at home.”

Ansbro’s commitment to George Mason caps a process that began when Ansbro first started sending emails to college coaches when she was in seventh grade.

“It was always the plan to try to get this done as soon as possible,” Ansbro said. “I’m not a big advocate for any athletes committing when they’re in eighth grade, which is becoming the trend for major Division I schools, but certainly I was looking to try to commit junior year so I could really just focus on strengthening myself and preparing myself for college.”

The start of the 2015 high school softball season is still a few weeks away, but Ansbro – who also regularly competes with travel softball teams during the offseason – has already made an impression in the pitching circle with Central during her first two varsity seasons. Last year as a sophomore, Ansbro went 15-2 with a 0.81 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 126 innings pitched and was a first-team all-Conference 28 and second-team all-Region 3A East pitcher.

Ansbro was The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2014 Softball Player of the Year.

“She’s so driven and so focused, and I know a lot of people say that about the athletes they coach, but I’ve never quite been around a player like her. And I’ve been around a lot of softball,” said Falcons head coach Lisa Rhodes, who played softball at Division III Bridgewater College and went to graduate school at GMU. “She’s so driven and she always wants to be better. She’s never satisfied with her performance. She’s always looking to just get a little bit better and to improve game to game and season to season. That’s going to pay off ten-fold for her at that level.”

George Mason, which begins play on Feb. 6, is coming off a 22-21 season in 2014, Verbanic’s ninth with the Patriots. GMU narrowly missed qualifying for the Atlantic-10 conference tournament and finished with a 6-10 league record last year.

Central begins softball practice in mid-February, and Ansbro expects to feel a lot less pressure in the circle with both the Falcons and her travel softball team after nailing down her college choice.

“Most of my [travel ball] teammates are committed and it was always kind of a lot of pressure to get it out of the way. But once it happens, it just feels like a lot less pressure and I think I can really go out there and just play now instead of constantly worrying about what coaches are watching me and if coaches are going to come watch me play,” Ansbro said. “It just feels a lot looser standing out in the circle now.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com