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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 – Titusville

Titusville Rockets
Coach (season, record): Roy Schweitzer (3rd season, 26-10)
2011 overall record: 13-3
2011 region record (place): 7-1 (co-champion)
2011 playoff results: Defeated Hickory 11-9 and lost to Saegertown 8-5 in the District 10 playoffs.
Top players lost: Jimmy Burt, Nick Cubbon, Brennan Becker
Top returning players: Lucas Hipple, Robby Johnson, Adam Bleday, Jayce Corklin, Zach Foltz, Ryan Schwab, Tyler Ripper
Assistant coaches: Mike Hlad, Denny Pattison, John Horn
Outlook: Titusville made a run through the District 10 playoffs before running into red-hot Saegertown. The Rockets lost Jimmy Burt, Nick Cubbon and Brennan Becker to graduation. Burt was a multiple all-region selection at second base and pitcher, while Cubbon was a four-year starter at shortstop. Titusville has several standout players back including Lucas Hipple, Robby Johnson, Adam Bleday, Jayce Corklin, Zach Foltz, Ryan Schwab and Tyler Ripper. Hipple is a returning all-district third baseman after hitting .490 with five home runs and 35 RBIs last spring, while Bleday is a solid hitter at .488 and 13 extra-base hits. Bleday is an even better pitcher, collecting a 5-1 record with a 1.63 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 30 innings as a sophomore. Johnson is a returning first-team outfielder, while Corklin is a second-team catcher. Titusville could also receive key contributions from Zach Horn, Mike Gionti, Tobey Bernard, Austin Christy and Seth Mehlenbacher as new players to the varsity level. The Rockets have two interesting games against Corry and Meadville to start the year before opening region play at Seneca on April 4.

30 at Corry 4
2 Meadville 4
4 at Seneca* 4
9 at Mercyhurst Prep 6:30
11 Iroquois 4
13 at Youngsville 4
16 Eisenhower 4
18 at Northwestern* 4
20 Fairview* 4
23 North East* 4
27 Seneca* 4
30 Mercyhurst Prep 4
2 at Iroquois 4
7 Youngsville 4
9 at Eisenhower 4
11 Northwestern* 4
14 at Fairview* 4
16 at North East* 4
18 at Warren 4
*Region games

Coach (season, record): Jim Becker (9th season, 91-50)
2011 overall record: 12-5
2011 region record (place): 7-1 (co-champion)
2011 playoff results: Defeated Iroquois 3-0 and Wilmington 6-3 before losing to Fairview 7-1 in the District 10 playoffs.
Top players lost: Ashley Smith, Lindsey Sawatsky, Kylie Rogers
Top returning players: Shana Grosch, Kate Garrett, Amy Clark, Marie Johnson, MacKenna Vandervort, Katie Neely
Assistant coaches: Megan Titus, Mark Sawatsky
Outlook: Titusville could be an interesting team this season with no seniors on the roster. The Rockets have experienced underclassmen and could be a dangerous team this season and next year. Titusville made its way to the District 10 championship before running into undefeated Fairview. The Rockets lost all-state selection Ashley Smith along with Lindsey Sawatsky and Kylie Rogers, but Shana Grosch, Kate Garrett, Amy Clark, Marie Johnson, MacKenna Vandervort and Katie Neely are back. Grosch (first base), Garrett (outfield), Clark (third base), Johnson (second base) and Vandervort (outfield) were voted to the all-region team last spring. Sophomores Megan Bowser and Laney Brown along with junior Kim Finley could be contributors this season as new players to the varsity. The Rockets loaded their schedule with bigger schools and will gain experience before a huge game at Wilmington on April 14.

26 Mercyhurst Prep 4
27 Meadville 4
29 at Slippery Rock 4
3 Franklin 4
5 at Eisenhower 4
10 at Grove City 4
14 at Wilmington* 12
17 Hickory 4
19 at Mercer* 4
21 Rocky Grove 11 a.m.
23 at Reynolds 4
24 at Sharon* 4
28 at Rocky Grove 11 a.m.
30 at Cranberry 4
3 Wilmington* 4
8 Mercer* 4
10 Sharon* 4
12 Central Tech 4
14 Cambridge Springs 4
17 at Jamestown 4
*Region games

Saturday: Union City, Villa Maria, Warren

– Tom Reisenweber

Posted in: Baseball, Softball, Winter Warm-up

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