Mantz powers Central to win

William Monroe shortstop Lacey Beale picks off Central's Lexi Rau on second base during third inning action Tuesday night in Woodstock. Rau overran the base on a bunt play and couldn't recover. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK — Central freshman Alex Mantz took a little extra practice on Monday to get ready for Tuesday’s game with William Monroe and it showed.

Mantz had two big hits to lead Central to an 8-1 victory over the Dragons in Bull Run District softball action.

“(Monday) I had come out here and was hitting with my dad, and really working on my outside pitches — it really paid off,” Mantz said.

Mantz had an RBI triple and three-run homer, the first of her career, to break open a close game with the Dragons.

The game was scoreless heading into the bottom of the fifth, and the Falcons had only mustered one hit in the first four innings.

Central's first baseman Kristina Stead gets the force out on William Monroe's Mariyah Viar during a third inning bunt attempt Tuesday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Central’s Bekah Ansbro drew a walk from William Monroe starting pitcher Jessica Ford. The fourth ball was a wild pitch that went into the fence behind home plate, giving Ansbro an extra base.

Mantz followed with an RBI triple to right field for a 1-0 lead.

“The last few games I had not done so well. I had been not focusing,” Mantz said. “I was striking out, not getting very good hits. So I was really focused in on this hit.”

Central’s Alisia Turner drew a walk to put runners on the corners, and Turner would later steal second. With one out, Erika Thorpe hit a ground ball, and the Dragons threw home to try to get Mantz out as she was attempting to come home.

The Dragons (8-5) appeared to have Mantz in a rundown, but she eventually was able to slide into home and was called safe for a 2-0 lead.

Central's Rebekah Ansbro smiles after scoring in the fifth inning against William Monroe on Tuesday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

“I thought she had me at home, when I went down the first time,” Mantz said. “I was like, ‘Well, what am I going to lose coming back, going back and forth?'”

The Falcons (12-2) added to their lead in the bottom of the sixth with six runs. Central’s Autumn Shelton drew a walk. Then Kristina Stead reached safely on a fielder’s choice, in which Shelton beat the throw to second. Ansbro followed with an RBI single for a 3-0 edge.

Mantz then drilled an 0-1 pitch over the center-field fence for a three-run homer.

“It was awesome,” Mantz said. “I was like, ‘Holy crap, it just went over.’ … It hit the perfect part of the bat and as soon as I hit it I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is going over fast.’ It was pretty amazing.”

“She’s got a great stick — she does,” Central coach Lisa Rhodes said of Mantz. “I think she sometimes gets a little nervous in the box, but when she goes in there and just uses what she’s got — she’s killer. She’s great.”

William Monroe shortstop Lacey Beale holds a runner on third base as Central's Alisia Turner steals second base during the fifth inning of Tuesday night's game in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

The Falcons added two more runs in the inning on a three-base error. That was more than enough for Central pitcher Ansbro. The senior didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning. She finished with 12 strikeouts and one walk, allowing three hits in the contest.

Rhodes said it was a complete win for the team.

“Just overall very impressed with the whole package tonight,” Rhodes said. “We had base running. We had our hitting. We had our pitching. We had our defense solid behind us. We had everything we needed tonight.”

The Falcons finished with six hits, led by Mantz, who had four RBIs in the contest.

Central was coming off a solid win over Strasburg last week, and Rhodes said she’s happy with where the team is at right now.

Central's Rebekah Ansbro fires a pitch against William Monroe earlier this season in Woodstock. The Falcons host Nottoway today in the Region 2A East semifinals. Rich Cooley/Daily file

“It’s momentum that we’ve started that we’re hopefully going to keep building on with each game,” Rhodes said. “You always want to be playing your best ball at the end of the season. So I think we’re on tack to be playing our best ball.”

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