Stottlemyer heroics help save win for Central

STEPHENS CITY – Central catcher Kylie Stottlemyer made two key plays Tuesday night to preserve a 7-6 come-from-behind victory over nonconference Sherando at Sherando Park.

Stottlemyer’s two gems came in the sixth when the undefeated Falcons (6-0) were trying to preserve their one-run lead for a two-game sweep of the Group 4A school (3-3). Earlier, the Falcons had trailed 6-4.

“(Chasing down foul balls) is something we have worked on all season, particularly Coach (Lisa Rhodes) focuses on it,” said the junior backstop.

Stottlemyer caught a foul-pop for the first out of the Sherando sixth and then threw out Warrior Lexi Schlag who had singled off starter and winner Bekah Ansbro. Her throw to the inside of second base to shortstop Shennan Waldron made it two outs.

Ansbro, who went the distance to keep her won-loss record (6-0) unblemished, then put down the final three Warriors she faced; the last three on strikeouts. In all, she accomplished 13 strikeouts.

“Throw backs are another thing we work on after practice every day,” Stottlemyer said.

Ansbro, who shut out Sherando 3-0 when the teams met on March 17, was roughed up a bit by the Warriors batters. Sherando had scored 14 runs against Martinsburg, West Virginia; 11 versus North Hagerstown (Maryland) and 19 against Harrisonburg in its last three wins.

“I’m happy about the way we hit the ball (seven safeties), the way we ran the bases and the way we played heads-up. For the most part we pitched well but we ran into a couple of errors that hurt us,” said Sherando coach Clarence Smith.

Central scored its first two runs to begin the game by playing “small ball.”

Waldron reached base on a Sherando error then moved to second when Brooke Sager was hit-by-the-pitch for the first of two times. Ansbro drove both home with a towering triple into the rightfield power alley.

But Ansbro was thrown out attempting to steal for the second out of the inning to stop the rally. Nonetheless, the Falcons led by two.

Sherando matched Central a run when Dani Edmonds singled, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and then scored on Korenn Paige’s single to center.

Ahead 2-1 in the top of the third, again Sager was HBP. Kristina Stead reached base via an error moving Waldron to second. The two executed a double-steal. Sager scored the Falcons third run on a wild-pitch. Stead had moved to third and came home on an Alex Mantz sacrifice fly.

Trailing 4-1, Sherando got its big inning when Central fielders seemed to be having trouble judging fly balls in the stiff breeze that blew through Sherando Park.

“We did, but you’ve just got to play through those things,” said Stottlemyer.

With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Warrior Marissa Webb sent an Ansbro pitch deep to centerfield for a triple. Sherando freshman pitcher River Baird got on base on a bunt single. An error enabled Webb and pinch runner Ashton Clark to score. Then pinch runner Brooke Moses scored on a passed ball.

Nikki Marshall continued the rally by earning first base on an outfield error. A bunt single moved Marshall to second and Edmonds to third. Sophomore Torey Seymour singled home Marshall and then Edmonds scored on an error. Sherando went ahead 6-4 after four innings.

Central answered in the top of the sixth. Ansbro reached first on an infield error. With two outs, Mariyah Viar walked and so did Rau. A dribbler got by the infield scoring Ansbro and Viar, and A wild pitch got Rau in. The score was 7-6 Central.

“One thing we pride ourselves on is picking each other up. When we had that inning we just supported each other. That’s a mark of a team,” Stottlemyer said.

The Warriors were able to scratch out one hit in the last two innings against Ansbro.

“We just wanted (Ansbro) throwing low. I have an assistant coach who has seen a lot of these girls in club softball and he kind of knows the hitters,” said Rhodes. “My idea is to keep it low and hit the corners and hope that the other team keeps the ball on the ground.”