Ansbro, Stead combine for perfect game

Bekah Ansbro

WOODSTOCK — Central High School junior Bekah Ansbro and freshman Kristina Stead combined for a five-inning, perfect-game victory over Stonewall Jackson on Tuesday in a Shenandoah County softball showdown.

For Ansbro, the George Mason University commit, it was the first time she has combined with another pitcher for a hitless, walk-less, error-less contest in her sterling three-season career. The right-hander fired a perfect game and a no-hitter as a freshman. Then, last season, she tossed another hitless effort.

“I was working on my pitches, hitting the right spots and trying to work the batters,” Ansbro said after the 18-0 verdict, which ended after five innings due to the mercy rule (at least a 10-run lead after a quintet of frames).

“I threw a no-hitter in jayvee, but this was the first time (I had been part of one) on the varsity,” said Stead.

As to whether she felt any additional pressure — what with the perfect game on the line — Stead said, “No, not really.”

Kristina Stead

“Bekah is a solid pitcher,” said Central coach Lisa Rhodes. “She’s perfecting what she has, and with her work ethic, she will improve. There’s always room to get better with her spots and her location. She’s working with her catcher [Kylie Stottlemyer] to get better every day.”

Ansbro, who pitched a 7-0 victory over Stonewall over a week ago, is now 3-0 — same as her team — on the young season. In her three performances, she has allowed just five hits, one run and has struck out 30 batters. She has given up just two walks and recorded just one hit-by-pitch. Ansbro has failed to allow a baserunner past second base over her last six innings pitched. She has struck out 11 of her last 21 opponents.

Ansbro went three innings against Stonewall Jackson (0-3) on Tuesday, striking out four. Meanwhile, Stead went two innings, retiring a pair of Generals on strikes.

But Ansbro did it on offense, too. Against Generals pitcher Madison Long, Ansbro went to bat three times. She slammed as many hits, including her third home run this season. Her round-tripper crossed the right-center field fence at the Falcons’ ballpark on a day the wind whistled left-to-right. The right-field barrier measures 200 feet from home plate.

With her two singles and homer, she scored three runs and knocked in a game-high six runs. She also stole two bases. As a team, the Falcons stole six bases.

“They’re good, and the way they attacked us is what they do. They score in bunches. They get a bunch of runs in one inning, and suddenly you’re fighting back,” said Stonewall Jackson coach Sue Rubeinstein. “We’re learning and trying to get to their level.”

The Falcons scored at least three runs in every inning. They batted around in two of their four frames.

While Ansbro was the star of the game, she received quality support. Not only did her teammates make sure there were no hits, they committed no errors. There were plenty of Falcons knocking the ball around safely.

Kessa Hawkins went 4-for-4 at the plate. She scored four runs, knocked in another and slammed a double. Brooke Sager went 3-for-4. She singled three times and scored the same number of runs. Mariyah Viar and Autumn Shelton each collected two singles and two RBIs. Viar scored two runs. Meanwhile, Stead, who opened the game in right field, registered a double, scored two runs and drove home a run.

Having outscored the opposition 21-1 in three games, the Falcons have been remarkably consistent this early in the season.

“We’re getting stronger in each game,” said Rhodes, who has led her team to postseason success in her first three seasons at the Woodstock school. “I told them at practice, I wanted them to get better every day. With every game, that’s what they’ve done so far.”

Central finished 17-4 last season. It was the Conference 28 champ and a regional quarter-finalist, losing to eventual 3A state champion Brentsville in 10 innings. Including last year, the Falcons have won 18 of their last 20 games.

“The [Brentsville game] was tough on us last year,” said Rhodes, “so I don’t think I need to remind them of it yet. But I’m sure they know. One of our goals this year is to take one step further than we did a year ago.”

Meanwhile, Stonewall Jackson is still looking for its first victory after facing Central twice and Strasburg.

The Generals’ Long allowed 17 hits, but just three of them went for extra bases.

“She’s been with me since her freshman year and she continues to improve,” Rubenstein said.