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By Mike Copper, Tom Reisenweber, Jeff Kirik Erie Times-News staff bloggers
The Varsity blog is the 2013 winner of an international EPPY award for best sports blog. EPPYs are awarded to media-affiliated websites by Editor & Publisher, an industry trade publication. Varsity is primarily maintained by Times-News sports writers Mike Copper and Tom Reisenweber and sports editor Jeff Kirik.   Read more about this blog.
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Winter Warm-up – Strong Vincent

Strong Vincent Colonels
Baseball
Coach (season): Kent Williamson (1st season)
2011 overall record: 8-6
2011 region record (place): 5-3 (third)
2011 playoff results: Lost 12-0 to McDowell in the District 10 playoffs.
Top player lost: Andrew Blakely
Top returning players: Matt Fiorenzo, Randy Kaliszewski, Chris Lilly, Derek Brady, Jake Olejarczyk, Brendan Joint, A.J. Irwin
Assistant coach: Tom Krawiec
Outlook: Strong Vincent turns to veteran coach Kent Williamson this season to lead the Colonels after the resignation of Jim Travers. Vincent lost standout outfielder Andrew Blakely to graduation but everyone else is back. The Colonels have a solid outfielder in Kaleb Nicks and an impressive double-play combination in Matt Fiorenzo and Chris Lilly. Vincent’s pitching staff of Jacob Olejarczyk, Randy Kaliszewski and Derek Brady will be key for Vincent, while Brandon Joint will anchor the staff from behind the plate. A.J. Irwin will lead the outfield with Nicks among others competing for starting jobs. Williamson led East to its only District 10 championship in 1982 and has set the program’s goal to winning a D-10 title.

Schedule
March
26 at Corry 4
April
3 Treasure Coast (Fla.) 3:30
4 South Fork (Fla.) 7
9 Oil City 4
11 at Warren 4
13 at Conneaut (Ohio) 4
16 at Central Tech* 6:30
18 at Slippery Rock 4
20 at East* 4
23 Conneaut (Ohio) 4
25 at Cathedral Prep* 6:30
27 McDowell* 6:30
30 at Franklin 4
May
1 Harbor Creek 6:30
4 Central Tech* 4
5 Girard 11 a.m.
7 Meadville 4
9 East* 4
11 Cathedral Prep* 6:30
16 at McDowell* 4
*Region games

Softball
Coach (season, record): Ron Niebauer (36th season, 427-203)
2011 overall record: 7-11
2011 region record (place): 6-10 (seventh)
2011 playoff results: Did not qualify for the District 10 playoffs.
Top players lost: Tyler Honard, Kaylee Kooker, Jessica Gorecki, Allison Balkovic, Brianna Opperman
Top returning players: Julie Rhines, Kendra Bolash, Haley Hess, Lydia Jobczynski, Tiffany Jones, Christina Lachica, Taylor Munson, Stephanie Peck
Assistant coaches: Laura Morgan, Jerry Dunn, Heather Ulmer, Jim Moats
Outlook: Strong Vincent fell victim to Mercyhurst Prep playing up in AAAA last season as the Lakers grabbed the other playoff spot after McDowell. The Colonels are looking to make their way back into the District 10 championship behind an experienced team. Vincent lost Tyler Honard, Kaylee Kooker, Jessica Gorecki, Allison Balkovic and Brianna Opperman to graduation, but Julie Rhines, Kendra Bolash, Haley Hess, Lydia Jobczynski, Tiffany Jones, Christina Lachica, Taylor Munson and Stephanie Peck are back. Add in new players Davonna Battle, Saralynn Bogle, Marlene Kani, Sara Lawrence, Alexis Negron and Heidi Peck and the Colonels could emerge as a contender once again. Team chemistry could be important for the Colonels after some transition with graduated players and numerous new players to the varsity level. Vincent opens the season in North Carolina before jumping right into a huge region game at McDowell on April 9.

Schedule
March
29 Charlotte Christian (N.C.) 4:30
April
2 Providence Day (N.C.) 4
3 Charlotte Catholic (N.C.) 4
4 Piedmont (N.C.) 5:30
9 at McDowell* 4
10 Central Tech* 4
12 at Harbor Creek* 4
13 at Corry* 4
14 East* 10 a.m.
17 at Fort LeBoeuf* 4
19 Warren* 4
21 at Mercyhurst Prep* 4
26 McDowell* 4
28 Corry* 4
May
1 at Central Tech* 4
3 Harbor Creek* 4
8 at East* 4
10 Fort LeBoeuf* 4
15 at Warren* 4
17 Mercyhurst Prep* 4
*Region games

Later today: Titusville

– Tom Reisenweber

Posted in: Baseball, Softball, Winter Warm-up

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