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Fauquier softball preview: Key returnees include pitcher Miller and shortstop Taylor

Thursday, Mar. 27 | By Fred Hodge
Led by returning All-Region II Pitcher of the Year Tess Miller, Fauquier should do well in Conference 22 action, but sketchy weather is harming preparation. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Please, please, please let us get outside.

That's a plea uttered repeatedly by spring sports coaches and athletes this year, as winter will not relent its grip on the area.

Mark Ott, Fauquier High School's softball coach certainly is a member of that fraternity, as the Falcons have been on a field only three times since practice opened Feb. 24.

"There still are a lot of questions," Ott admitted this week when asked about practices to date and a three-team scrimmage Saturday at Madison County.

"Each kid had maybe two at bats apiece one day on the [junior varsity] field," Ott noted of the lone live hitting experience prior to the scrimmages. "Offensively, it's a matter of getting more repetitions.

"We didn't hit the ball," he said of the scrimmage action.

Fauquier and every other team cannot duplicate live pitching versus batters during inside practices, so patience is needed more than in recent seasons.

"We need to get outside...just to have some consistency and productivity offensively," Ott said.

"Defensively, I'm not unhappy at all."

The Falcons took the regular-season Evergreen District title in 2013 and and were within one win of a state tournament berth before a loss in the regional semifinals.

Fauquier has a small, but solid nucleus back from that squad, led by ace pitcher Tess Miller and infielder Rachel Taylor.

Miller, now a junior, posted a 0.77 earned run average en route to Evergreen District and Region II Pitcher of the Year honors before gaining second-team all-state status.

Taylor, also a junior, was the team leader with 27 hits and a .474 batting average. She will move to shortstop this spring after playing second last season.

Angelle Marshall hit .385, while Apryl Nalls returns after hitting .378. Josie Adgate, Robyn Fletcher and Lauren Sweeney are the other returnees.

Despite some proven hitters, Ott emphasized his team will need to possess the ability to score in other ways other than just standing at the plate and swinging for the fences because some strong bats did leave the program.

"We're always going to have to manufacture some runs," he said. "But you cam say that about most teams. There aren't many out there about to knock out six to eight runs off a good pitcher."

Sharon Blevins, Leann Brown, Ashtyn Foddrell, Jesse Goodwin, Shelby Hightower, Macy Mathews, ajd Marlee Ott round out the varsity unit.

The junior varsity team includes Alena Stark, Kellie Seely, Bailey Ross, Makenzie Lester, Shelby Jones, Gillian Hansel, Abby guite, Justine Gonzales, Lauren Foller, Emma Dixon, Megan Bruce and Samantha Blackwell.

The Virginia High School League's new format means the focus will fall now on the Conference 22 members. Joining the Falcons in that group are Liberty, King George, Courtland, Chancellor and Eastern View.

Ott expects Liberty to be the toughest of that group.

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