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Fauquier’s lineup in flux as 2013 softball season approaches

Thursday, Mar. 7 | By Fred Hodge
The Fauquier Falcons could use a pitching committee to replace Sarah Kleinfelter. --Times-Democrat Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
The backdrop for the 2013 Evergreen District softball race will differ significantly from a year ago.

In 2012, the Fauquier Falcons were unbeaten versus the league's other four teams en route to a 20-3 season.

The 20 victories equaled the school mark for most wins in a season and set a new mark for best winning percentage.

That squad captured the district crown and reached the Region II semifinals, finishing one win shy of a Group AA state tournament berth.

Fauquier lost eight seniors from that roster, so this Falcon unit is a work in progress.

Falcon coach Mark Ott sees solid potential among his 14 girls, but considerable experimentation is probable before the lineup solidifies.

"The kids I have, they are very eager to learn," Ott said. "There's nobody locked in at many positions, so they are all competing for playing time."

There is no question about one position, as senior Justina Augustine returns for a fourth season as Fauquier's shortstop.

She was the district's Most Valuable Player last spring after hitting .405 with four home runs, a triple and eight doubles. Augustine also scored 30 times, drove in 19 runs and stole 14 bases, and eventually committed to play at Longwood University after numerous schools recruited her.

Augustine and Ashley Brown ― Fauquier's only other senior ― have earned Ott's praise for their leadership and had work since practice began Feb. 19.

Fauquier will have a different look in the infield, as a quartet of four-year lettermen left the fold.

There will be different faces at first, second and third and at pitcher.

Pitching, of course, is a cornerstone position for most teams. Fauquier graduated star pitcher and longtime fixture Sarah Kleinfelter; she was twice voted as the district's top hurler and is now on scholarship at George Mason.

There is a trio of candidates vying to replace her.

Ott said the position may be handled by committee, depending upon progress in the early going.

Juniors Apryl Nalls and Krysta Darnell and sophomore Tess Miller are the Falcon hurlers. Both Nalls and Darnell are southpaws, while Miller is a righthander.

Nalls and Darnell saw action in scrimmages versus King George and Orange. Miller did not play due to injury.

"I thought both showed they are able to hit spots and keep the ball down," Ott said of the lefthanders' play on Saturday.

Sophomore Rachel Taylor returns as catcher, while Nalls, Tess Miller and Katie Manson looming as top candidates at first base.

At second, the picture is more crowded, as Josie Adgate, Robyn Fletcher, Taylor and Kaitlyn Reid are possibilities.

Reid and Manson are the third baseman, and Manson also can catch.

Brown, Kaiulani Miller and Fletcher are outfielders, as are Christina Bruno, Elizabeth Wilcox, Lauren Sweeney, Nalls and Adgate.

Ott expressed disappointment with numerous mental mistakes during the scrimmages, but he pointed out many of the current crew are trying new positions.

"It takes time to gel and get used to new positions and to get to know each other," Ott said.

"In all seriousness, I believe these girls have the ability to get together," he said.

Fauquier plans to scrimmage Monticello and Madison County this Saturday before the regular-season slate begins March 12 and 13 at Culpeper and Skyline, respectively.

Fauquier has nine non-district games scheduled before the April 12 district opener at Liberty.

"Our district should be a tight race," Ott said, pointing to veteran hurlers at Kettle Run and Liberty and Warren County's list of returnees.

"We have a lot of work to do," Ott said, noting the lineup for the opening games may not be the same as when district play commences.
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