Three weeks ago, Ben Moore stepped nervously into the batter’s box at Bill Shelton Field, dug into the dirt and stared down the pitcher for the first time as a member of Cullman High’s varsity baseball team.

If you blinked, you just might have missed the nerves.

“I was trying to not let the pitcher get ahead,” said Moore, who collected his first varsity hit — a double off the right field wall — later in the game. “I was just working on control.”

As much as Moore might sound like a veteran, it’s his play so far this season that’s made the sophomore look like an old pro.

Just 14 games into his varsity career, the Bearcats outfielder is batting a team-high .429 while getting on base at a .512 clip. With 21 hits, two homers and 16 RBIs, Moore has quickly developed into an offensive powerhouse despite never having played above the JV level before this season.

But Moore isn’t the only sophomore making a big splash in the early going.

In his first full season with the varsity club, second baseman Matthew Britton is batting .372 with eight RBIs. That includes an eye-popping .875 average with runners in scoring position.

Meanwhile, pitcher-infielder Daniel Moore has been a steady presence on the mound — going 2-2 with a 3.89 ERA in nine innings — while posting a .385 average at the plate.

Surprised? Don’t be — not with the grueling offseason regimen these three have gone through.

“It’s the offseason, hitting a lot and working out, ” said Ben Moore, who’s posted a .612 slugging percentage through 49 at-bats.

“We worked hard in the offseason,” added Daniel Moore. “You do a lot of pitching drills to get your arm in shape.”

Then again, there’s nothing quite like raw talent — that is, as long as you keep working on it, day-in and day-out.

“Ben has been working in the cage a lot, and Daniel is just a good pitcher,” said Britton. “Ben’s always been a good hitter. But this year, he’s got more pop.”

The last time some Cullman fans saw Britton, he was scoring the winning run of the Bearcats’ 6-5 win over Etowah in the first round of the 2008 playoffs. Though he didn’t see much action as a freshman role player during the playoffs, Britton is now becoming an integral part of the Cullman’s plans for the 2009 season.

So far, the transition has been much easier than Britton ever expected.

“I’ve never hit this good,” he said. “It’s been pretty smooth, but you can tell a difference in the competition going from JV to varsity.

“I expected to play a little, but not as much as I have.”

Which might explain some of why the sophomores have been three of the best so far this season for the Bearcats. Playing with nothing to lose, the trio have posted numbers any upperclassman would envy.

When Cullman starts area play today against Brewer, Bearcats coach Brent Patterson will be looking for more of the same.

“You’re not expected to be good as a sophomore,” said Ben Moore. “It’s all about training your mind. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one will.”

Plus, it never hurts to have nerves of steel.

“The nerves get to you bad at first,” said Daniel Moore. “But after than first out, you calm down and get your composure. Once you get that first out, then you can start locating your pitches.”

First pitch against Brewer is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. today at Bill Shelton Field.

Michael Cummings can be reached by e-mail at or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 258.

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