Hitters often struggle at the beginning of baseball season, trying to perfect their timing and adjust to live pitching as opposed to an indoor machine. Fauquier is an exception to the rule.

The Falcons scored at least eight runs in each of their first four games, winning three. Four starters -- center fielder Josh Campbell (8 for 14), first baseman Adam Duckett (6 for 11) and third baseman John James (5 for 12), all seniors, and catcher Zach Caito (6 for 14), a freshman -- are batting .400 or better.

Campbell has two triples, a double and a homer and has scored seven times. Duckett drove in eight runs in the first two games -- a 10-5 victory over Loudoun Valley and a 10-0 shutout of Heritage.

Last year, Fauquier started similarly. The Falcons scored 52 runs as they won their first four games, plating at least 11 each time.

Fauquier also has an outdoor batting cage, which the team can use when its field is too muddy.

"Usually, pitching is way ahead of the hitters, but with the weather like it's been, pitchers haven't had enough chances to stay outside," Coach Sam Johnson said. "Meantime, our kids hit all winter. We're fortunate in that most of our guys are baseball guys, and they're not tied up with other sports during the winter."

But Johnson is quick to note his batters must be prepared when the pitchers inevitably round into form. After last year's torrid 4-0 start, the Falcons scored only three runs in each of the next four as they faced one opponent's ace after another.

"When you start seeing teams' number one guys, it's a lot different," Johnson said. "As you get into the season, the weather gets warmer, and the pitchers get loose."

Heritage Triumphs

The Heritage softball team earned its first victory before touching its home plate.

The Pride has not played a home game because its unfinished field has no bases and no pitching mound.

But the team of six freshmen and three juniors defeated Warren County last Friday, 3-1, on solo home runs by freshmen Kelly Haller and Kaitlyn Petrella and strong pitching by freshman Heather McConnell.

Several area teams have relied successfully on freshmen in recent years, so it might have seemed logical that softball would be the one sport in which Heritage would not experience a year of growing pains against more physically mature opponents.

But Pride Coach Kim Turner said young players in the county have made immediate impacts because of their participation in travel leagues. Only three Pride players participate in such programs, but other teams have complete rosters with travel-ball experience.

"For what we've had to work with, I'm really pleased," said Turner, a former longtime assistant to Loudoun Valley's Joe Spicer. "They came in thinking they could play as a JV team. When we found we had a varsity team, the girls started saying, 'Hey, maybe I can step it up and compete at that level,' just like they did [against Warren County]. I just hope that confidence continues into the district season."

Turner said she hopes that the field will be completed by the time the Pride plays its home opener April 11 against Potomac Falls.