SOFTBALL: Lebanon tops the Falcons in 16 innings

RADFORD — In what amounted to a doubleheader plus two innings, Lebanon High School captured Saturday’s 2A state softball championship by edging Central, 2-1, on a two-out walkoff home run by Taylor Woodlief in the bottom of the 16th inning at Radford University.

The game was an epic pitching duel between Lebanon’s Morgan Hamm and Central ace Rebekah Ansbro, with each surrendering only one run over the fi rst seven innings.

“I’ve never been a part of a game like this in my career,” said Central coach Lisa Rhodes. “It was a great game and could have gone either way at any point. We tried all the tricks we had to win it.”

Both teams scored their only other runs the same way — back-to-back doubles by Central’s Alex Mantz and Darden Lear in the top of the fourth and by Lebanon’s Monica Parrott and Woodlief in the bottom of the sixth.

In a game stoked with high drama, both teams also had several opportunities to win before Woodlief finally ended it with a solid shot over the center field fence.

The Falcons got runners on base in every inning after the seventh — except for the 10th.

Ansbro led off the top of the 16th with a base hit, but Hamm retired the next three Central hitters in order.

Central shortstop Shennan Waldron and left fielder Lexi Rau were extremely busy in the field.

Ansbro racked up a total of 19 strikeouts, while Hamm recorded a dozen for Lebanon.

“That was a really good softball game,” Ansbro said. “I was just trying to bear down. I would’ve gone 100 innings if I needed to.”Rhodes said that Ansbro began to wear down, but that relied on her mechanics to keep the Falcons in the game. Each pitcher threw approximately 200 pitches.

“This is the most talent we’ve had on the team this season,” Rhodes said. “But heart is the biggest ingredient we had.”

Rhodes announced that this was her fi nal season for Central, which went farther than any softball team in school history.

Although Ansbro and Rhodes will obviously be missed next season, the Falcons have high hopes for the future, only graduating two seniors.

“We know we can build on this,” sophomore Lear said. “Every person on the team is important and we built trust in each other. We can rely on the people around you and we became close as a team.”

The Falcons (22-5) won the team sportsmanship trophy for the tournament.

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