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Warren County still awaiting its elusive season opener


By Brad Fauber

Some members of Warren County's baseball team might be starting to wonder if the Wildcats will ever play a game this season.

Since the official start to the spring season stuttered out of the gate nearly two weeks ago, the Wildcats have had four games postponed and have yet to play a live game against an opposing school.

"It's very frustrating for the kids," Wildcats coach Vernon Mathews said on Wednesday evening. "I actually called them in today and talked to them. We just have to keep working on the little things while we're inside. ... I just told them we have to keep working because once this blows open it's going to be a lot of games."

Mathews said as of Wednesday evening, Warren County was working on trying to get its home game in against George Mason on Thursday if the field at Bing Crosby Stadium was playable. But the status of that game -- which was originally scheduled to be played last week -- was still uncertain on Wednesday.

Warren County's next scheduled game is a road contest against Rappahannock County, but Mathews wasn't optimistic that the Wildcats would get that game in either due to the rain that is forecasted to hit the area this weekend.

"Once we get started we're looking at three games a week throughout the season. That's unusual," Mathews said.

Poor field conditions have forced the Wildcats -- and most other area teams -- inside for daily practices, though Mathews said Warren County has had some opportunities to work outside on the school's practice field.

Mathews said Warren County has done a few intrasquad scrimmages to get batters used to some live pitching, but he expects the Wildcats to show some rust whenever they finally take the field.

"We just haven't had as many repetitions as we usually do," he said. "I'm going to expect some defensive miscues early on."

PLENTY OF EXPERIENCE: Strasburg opened its season with a solid win against a struggling Rappahannock County team last Saturday, as the Rams rolled to a 21-0 victory that was shortened to five innings.

"We played well. We're a little more experienced than what they were," Smoot said. "Once we got into their bullpen they struggled, especially."

Experience will be key for the Rams this season, as Strasburg returns seven starters from last season's team and have six seniors and four juniors listed on this year's roster. Smoot said that returning experience has helped and will continue to help Strasburg overcome the lack of sufficient practice time the Rams have had so far this season.

The upperclassmen played key roles in Saturday's win, as seniors Tyler Doman and Ian Baker, as well as junior Mark Smoot, each tallied two hits. On the mound, senior Ryan Murphy, Doman, Mark Smoot and junior Garrett Richards combined to allow just one hit while striking out nine in five innings.

Strasburg returns to action in its annual Ram Hardball Classic tournament scheduled for this weekend. The Rams open the two-day event against Page County on Friday.

BAD BREAKS: Sherando has been a bit unlucky so far this season, as the Warriors have yet to practice on their own field and have struggled to get significant reps for many of their new faces.

It showed in an 8-4 loss in last Saturday's season opener at home against Broadway, as Sherando -- last year's Group AA state champion -- committed five errors.

"That first game, all eight runs we gave up were unearned," Warriors coach Pepper Martin said. "That's going to be a work in progress early in the season, because we're replacing our entire infield."

Martin said the Warriors looked much better in their home game Monday against Washington (W.Va.) and Sherando appeared on its way to its first win of the season -- until the game was suspended in the bottom of the fifth inning with Sherando holding a 6-3 lead.

"The second game we can't catch a break. We have the lead in the bottom of the fifth and the power went out," Martin said.

That game is scheduled to be resumed on May 7 when Sherando travels to play the Patriots in Charles Town.

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com



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