Falcons bounce back, top Rams in softball

STRASBURG — Central was looking to bounce back, after suffering a tough loss earlier in the week, against Shenandoah County rival Strasburg on Friday night. The Falcons got exactly what they were looking for.

The Falcons had enough hits, pitching and good defense to pull out a 4-0 win over the Rams in Bull Run District and Conference 35 softball action.

Central lost for only the second time this season on Tuesday, 4-2, to Madison County.

“It’s big, especially with the team that showed up to play tonight,” Central coach Lisa Rhodes said of the way her team responded Friday night. “It was really great to see them gel and come back and be ready to play softball tonight. As a coach that’s what you want to see after a loss like that.”

Central took the lead in the top of the first. Central’s Autumn Shelton and Kristina Stead had back-to-back singles and Bekah Ansbro drew a walk to load the bases against Strasburg pitcher Carey Scott.

Alex Mantz’s groundout RBI gave Central a 1-0 lead. Scott was able to get out of the inning with a strikeout, leaving the bases loaded. The Falcons left 11 runners on base throughout the game.

That would be all that Ansbro needed. The senior pitcher threw a two-hitter and struck out 15, and had a four-pitch first inning.

“I think I was doing a really good job of getting ahead in the count early,” Ansbro said. “Strasburg’s batters were doing a good job of looking down in the zone and not swinging at things too high. So I tried my best to incorporate my rise ball a little lower in the zone, and it seemed to be effective.”

The Falcons (11-2) had plenty of opportunities to score more runs, but were caught stealing three times in the second and third innings combined, and left the bases loaded in the sixth inning.

Central added a run in the top of the fifth. Shennan Waldron drew a walk to start the inning. With two outs Ansbro reached second on a single and error to knock in Waldron for a 2-0 lead.

“Around that point in the game we kind of started to lose a little bit of energy, and Shennan getting on base started it back up,” Ansbro said. “I think the double just kind of helped a little bit. It gave me some breathing room out on the mound.”

All nine batters reached base at least once for the Falcons and they had nine hits in the game.

“I feel like we did pretty good as a team tonight,” said Stead, who had three hits for the Falcons. “… I feel like my hitting came together tonight and I felt pretty good. Just one of those nights where it all came together.”

Strasburg’s two hits came in the bottom of the fourth. With two outs, Cortney McDonald and Olivia Gochenour had back-to-back singles. Ansbro got out of the jam by striking out Emily Alexander. The Rams (6-7) only managed to hit one ball out of the infield and only had two base runners.

“She’s a good pitcher, but I felt like we should have been able to hit her,” Strasburg coach Suzanne Mathias said. “She just moves it well and keeps you off balance. The way we can make contact I felt we would make some contact, at least. I’m just frustrated with that, but again she’s a good pitcher you got to give her credit too.”

The Falcons added two more runs in the top of the seventh. Stead doubled to start the inning, Ansbro drew a walk and Mantz followed with an infield single to load the bases. Stead scored on a fielder’s choice, and Dana Painter’s RBI single extended the lead to 4-0.

Mathias said she was very happy with the way her defense played. Strasburg has been riddled with injuries, and she said the team is improving.

“The ones I have, they’re progressing and getting better and doing good things each game,” Mathias said. “I think in time it will come together for us. We’re halfway done now. We’re a good ball team, it’s just a matter of getting it all put together now.”

The Falcons are hoping the win will ignite them the rest of the season.

“I think a big win like this over a country rival is going to help us keep our momentum going in the coming weeks,” Ansbro said.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com