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Fauquier baseball preview: Let the O’Saben Era begin

Tuesday, Apr. 8 | By Paul Delavergne
Ty Pavlock should help anchor Fauquier's lineup this season. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
The Fauquier High baseball team enters the 2014 season with new coach Matt O’Saben at the helm.

Promoted to replace Bob Martin, who decided not to return, O’Saben is a former Falcon baseball player who graduated in 1993.

He returned to the program in 2009 when then-coach Paul Koch asked for O'Saben's help with winter conditioning sessions and later with the pitching squad. O'Saben later became the JV head coach for one season in 2011 and was the lead assistant varsity coach the last two seasons under Martin.

Led by ace lefthander Charlie Simmons, O'Saben inherits a solid core of five returning starters, all hungry to repeat last season's success when the Falcons went 10-10 and returned to the Region II playoffs after a frustrating period.

The Falcons placed second in the Evergreen District in 2013 and lost to Liberty in an epic district tournament championship game. FHS advanced to the regional playoffs but lost their first round regional playoff game to Woodgrove, 11-4.

Fauquier's established hitters include center fielder Ryan Simpson, No. 1 pitcher Charlie Simmons and third baseman Ty Pavlock.

Only a sophomore, Pavlock was an all-Evergreen District selection as a freshman and will hit in the cleanup spot. He led the Falcons in batting average and home runs in 2013. He homered in a scrimmage against Highland, and projects as Falcons' most frightening batter to opposing teams.

Simmons opens the season as O'Saben's most experienced and talented arm, and will man the outfield when not pitching.

Recruited to play at the University of Virginia-Wise, Simmons has a live fast ball and commands the strike zone with off-speed offerings as well. Simmons was an all-Evergreen District team the last two seasons both as a pitcher and outfielder.

Junior Ryan Simpson and senior Sam Tinnesz round out the starting rotation. O’Saben indicated both have the potential to keep the team in a lot of games and could have breakout seasons.

Other pitchers that could see opportunities in relief are Gavin Cranford, Pavlock, Chandler Kezele, Travis Croson, and Matt Duckworth. Cranford could also start.

The Falcons lost several productive players to graduation, including third baseman Hunter Ball, second baseman Garrett Croson and pitcher Brad Smoot.

But O’Saben isn't overly concerned. "Other leaders are starting to emerge within our ranks," the new coach said. "Losing players is always a challenge but others will step in and I don’t feel it will hurt us overall.”

O’Saben stressed that the projected lineup is in no way set at this early stage.

“There are still four positions where I see a healthy competition developing within the team," he said. "For the first half of the season, you will not see us roll out the same set of nine guys for two games in a row."

Some players that could emerge are junior Chris Myers, sophomores Travis Croson and Brandon Cross, and freshman Henry Delavergne. O'Saben says all four will get a shot "and should get enough reps to keep them engaged.“

Fauquier buried Highland School 19-1 and Skyline 13-0 in scrimmages. While O’Saben said those preseason efforts were helpful, he did not want to put too much stock in them. "When your team is facing an opponent’s fifth or sixth pitcher, it is hard to tell much about your offensive prowess,” he said.

Conference 22, the Falcons’ new conference, is comprised of local rivals Liberty and Eastern View, plus Fredricksburg area foes Chancellor, Courtland and King George.

Eastern View and Liberty are the only teams O'Saben is familiar with, but he respects the other three, too.

"At this level no teams and no games are to be overlooked,” said O'Saben.

- - - - -

Projected batting order

SS, Gavin Cranford, Jr.*
SP/OF, Charlie Simmons, Sr. *
CF, Ryan Simpson, Jr.*
3B, Ty Pavlock, Soph.*
C, Brad Curtis, Sr.*
1B, Chandler Kezele, Soph.
LF, Tanner Delph, Jr.
RF, Jon Harris, Sr.
2B, Sam Batson, Sr.

*Returning starters

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