Ansbro shuts down Warriors

WOODSTOCK – Central pitching sensation Bekah Ansbro enjoyed her second strong outing of the young season Thursday as again she went the entire seven innings against Sherando and the Falcons notched their second victory, 3-0.

Though these teams fail to share the same district or conference, Sherando is a Group 4A school while Central, with a lesser enrollment, is at a 2A grade. It was the first time in recent memory a Falcon team knocked off the Warriors in this sport.

Asked whether her team had ever dropped one of the 4A schools in the Winchester area since she had been at the Woodstock school, coach Lisa Rhodes said she thought her team may have once played James Wood.

On the other hand, Rhodes, whose team is 2-0 after giving up just one run this week, formerly coached at Loudoun County, “So it might have been there we played James Wood, I’d have to check.”

In any case, the two-run victory served as something of a benchmark as the team, which just lost one senior from last season, continued its undefeated run.

“We didn’t know what they had, but we knew from the past they were a good team so we were ready for them,” said Ansbro.

The hard-throwing righthander, headed to George Mason on a softball scholarship in the fall, allowed just three hits while striking out 14.

The only time the senior got in trouble was in the top of the sixth inning when Sherando put two runners on with just one out.

Not only did Ansbro strike out the next two batters, she gave up a hit to lead off the top of the seventh and then fanned three in a row to end the game.

She was particularly stingy against the heart of the Sherando order – the third, fourth and fifth hitters – giving up just one hit. She threw 53 strikes.

The Warriors are rebuilding after reaching a 4A North Regional quarterfinal game in 2015.

Gone from that 17-6 team are all-Northwestern first teamers Heidi Brown, Carly Nixon, Hannah Lockhart and Katie Manson. One all-district performer, Lexi Schlag, returns at third base.

“We’re young, but I thought we played well out there and battled. (Ansbro), I understand she’s going to George Mason on scholarship – so we knew what we were in for,” said Sherando coach Clarence Smith.

Interestingly, the Warriors (0-2) picked up three hits compared to just one from the Falcons, as Ansbro’s effort and four errors against the visitors proved pivotal.

Sherando freshman relief pitcher River Baird toiled 3 2/3 innings while giving up just the single safety, but the Falcons scored once in the first off the starting pitcher; again in the second and finally in the sixth on some nifty base-running from Ansbro.

Shennan Waldren led off the first for the Falcons by reaching base on an error. She went to second on Brooke Sager’s sacrifice. After Kristina Stead became the second base-runner after walking, Alexandria Mantz picked up her third run batted in of the season with a glancing base hit to right.

The score in the third came when Sager walked, stole second, moved to third with the bases loaded. Mantz picked up her fourth RBI with a sacrifice fly to center.

The winner’s final run came when Ansbro led off the sixth by reaching base on an error, moved to third on a fielders choice and then came home on a passed ball. The pitcher seemed like she would be retired on a tag out at third, but adeptly slid around the throw.

Even though Central was playing a school in a larger classification, Falcon mentor Rhodes said she spent less time scouting the Stephens City school than she did leading her own troops.

“I’m not sure if I knew the classification difference before the game or not. I try to pay attention only to things we can control. We look at the schedule, see who the next team up is, and get ready to play,” Rhodes said.

“Our coaches are good at keeping us focused, preaching to look at the next pitch, and not worry about what might happen in the game,” said Mantz, a member of the junior varsity in 2015. “It keeps us loose and on an even keel.”