WEIRTON - A new skipper is in town as T.J. Brancazio takes over a Weirton Madonna baseball team that is fresh off a 25-9 season that ended with a West Virginia Class A state championship.
Though the team lost six seniors in Logan Linder, Nick Battista, Chris Duerr, Connor Mogan, Daniel Pietranton and Anthony Fulmer, Brancazio still welcomes back eight letterman and four starters from the championship squad.
''We're young,'' Brancazio said. ''We only have two seniors, but we have guys coming back that played last year. I think as the year goes along we will improve.''
Leading the pack will be pitcher Luca Fuscardo.
A year ago, the junior struck out a team-high 69 batters on his way to posting a 1.58 ERA. The All-Valley recipient also showed talent from behind the plate as he collected 28 hits, including five doubles.
Luca will split time on the mound with senior and returning starter Tory Fuscardo, who finished 2012 with a 0.84 ERA.
Other players who will see pitching time are juniors Nick Mazur and Michael Rogers and sophomores Kaleb Baire, Vinnie Merico, and Dom Silvestri.
Nick Ossman is also a returning starter for the Blue Dons. The junior will be looking to better his numbers from a season ago where he finished with 22 RBI and 12 stolen bases. The talented Ossman will see action at catcher, third base and in the outfield.
Fellow returning starter Will Bowser will enter his third year on the team. The junior helped out the Blue Dons' offense last season as he ended with a team-high six triples.
Bowser will split time between outfield and pitcher.
The rest of the outfield features juniors Anthony Antinone and Andrew Higgins, while sophomore Jonathan Ekey will be vying for playing time along with freshman Jake Ferrari.
The infield will see senior Charles Kotten at first base. Junior Adam Robertson will also try to receive action at first.
Baire will return to the starting lineup at shortstop, while fellow second year player Domenic Silvestri will serve as catcher.
Sophomores Vinnie Merico and Fargo Camerlengo will spend time at third base and second base, respectively.
Others playing infield include sophomores Nick Mazur and Grant Retton.