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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 – Sharpsville

Sharpsville Blue Devils
Baseball
Coach (season, record): Mike Sikorski (6th season, 55-29)
2012 overall record: 17-2
2012 region record (place): 9-1 (champion)
2012 playoff results: Defeated Commodore Perry 12-7 in the District 10 Class AA quarterfinals before losing to Titusville 2-1 in the semifinals.
Top players lost: Kevin Yarabinec, Nick Siguenza
Top returning players: Bryan Stafford, Jake Bulick, Taylor Lenzi, Jalen Mockabee, Ross Llewellyn, Tanner Morris, Greg Popatak, Tyler Wansack, Mitch Fyffe
Assistant coaches: Shawn Valenly, Bobby Donatelli, Kyle Rupp
Outlook: Sharpsville ran into a tough Titusville in the D-10 semifinals last year, and the Blue Devils are looking for another run in the playoffs this year. Sharpsville lost Kevin Yarabinec and Nick Siguenza to graduation and both leave big holes to fill. Yarabinec hit .351 with six home runs and had 100 strikeouts with a 0.47 ERA for the Blue Devils. He was voted to the all-region first team at shortstop and pitcher and was voted the region pitcher of the year. Siguenza was another dominant pitcher with a 0.58 ERA. Losing two standout pitchers will be tough on the Blue Devils this season. Sharpsville returns Bryan Stafford, Jake Bulick, Taylor Lenzi, Jalen Mockabee, Ross Llewellyn, Tanner Morris, Greg Popatak, Tyler Wansack and Mitch Fyffe this spring. Stafford, Bulick, Lenzi, Mockabee and Llewellyn are senior leaders for coach Mike Sikorski. Stafford (catcher) and Popatak (third base) are returning all-region first-team selections, while Mockabee (first base), Wansack (outfield) and Bulick (outfield) are returning second-team selections. Sharpsville has the offensive firepower to compete for the Region 2 title but developing a new pitching staff will be key. The Blue Devils are a team to keep an eye on this spring.

Schedule
April
3 Commodore Perry* L, 1-11 5 innings
4 Lakeview W, 12-7
5 at Hickory* W, 20-12
8 Wilmington* W, 4-3 8 innings
10 at Reynolds* PPD
15 Sharon* 4
16 at Grove City
17 at West Middlesex* 4
22 at Mercer* 4
24 at Commodore Perry* 4
26 at Jamestown 4
29 Hickory* 4
May
1 at Wilmington* 4
6 Reynolds* 4
8 at Sharon* 4
13 West Middlesex* 4
15 Mercer* 4
*Region 2 games

Softball
Coach (season): Rick Grandy (1st season)
2012 overall record: 15-3
2012 region record (place): 10-2 (champion)
2012 playoff results: Defeated Reynolds 8-2 in the District 10 Class A semifinals before losing to Saegertown 11-2 in the D-10 championship.
Top players lost: Hanley Spencer, Katie Hanley, Kristy Roberts, Taylor O’Conner, Molly Gill
Top returning players: McKenzie Popatak, Megan Davis, Rachel Harenchar, Madelyn Shuttleworth, Megan Whalen
Assistant coaches: Cory Sternthal, Kirk Messett, Keith Wansack, Kelley Thompson
Outlook: Sharpsville ran into powerhouse Saegertown in the District 10 Class A championship last season. The Blue Devils will have to replace several talented players to get back to the D-10 game this year. Hanley Spencer, Katie Hanley, Kristy Roberts, Taylor O’Conner and Molly Gill are gone to graduation. Gill (first base), Roberts (second team), O’Connor (third base), Hanley (outfield) and Spencer (pitcher) were all-region first-team selections as seniors. The Blue Devils have experienced players back, including McKenzie Popatak, Megan Davis, Rachel Harenchar, Madelyn Shuttleworth and Megan Whalen. Popatak is a first-team selection at catcher and was voted the region player of the year. Harenchar was voted to the all-region second team at designated player. Sharpsville will need to play strong defense until several players step up as offensive weapons. The Blue Devils have nine freshmen on the roster and inexperience could be an issue early on. If Sharpsville can develop chemistry as the season goes on, the Blue Devils will be a tough out in the District 10 Class A playoffs.

Schedule
April
3 Grove City W, 12-11
4 at Saegertown L, 4-16 5 innings
6 Cambridge Springs W, 15-5 5 innings
8 Mercer W, 6-5
9 Reynolds* W, 4-3
11 Kennedy Catholic* PPD
13 Hubbard (Ohio) 3:30
16 at Farrell* 4
18 West Middlesex* 4
20 at Titusville 11 a.m.
23 at Commodore Perry* 4
25 at Reynolds* 4
27 at Brookfield (Ohio) 11 a.m.
30 at Kennedy Catholic* 4
May
2 at Wilmington 4
7 Farrell* 4
8 Warren JFK 4
9 at West Middlesex* 4
14 Commodore Perry* 4
*Region 1 games

–Tom Reisenweber

Posted in: Baseball, Softball, Winter Warm-up

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