Tri-County’s Denny Stitz and Twin Lakes Ron Deno would be the first to tell you that they expected more of the 2001 season.Even though both coaches’ teams did not advance deep into their tournaments, Stitz’s and Deno’s efforts earned them the Herald-Journals’ Coach of the Year honors.Deno, who has been the top dog for the Twin Lakes softball program for the last six years, guided his squad to a 25-7 record during the 2001 season.Twin Lakes’ season was cut short in the championship game of the Twin Lakes Sectional as West Lafayette ended the Indians’ sectional title streak.According to Twin Lakes’ Jessica Bragg, a four-year starter under Deno, the head coach treated each of his players fairly.“He is very serious and expects everyone to do their jobs,” noted Bragg.Bragg explained that Deno did not let anyone slip under the radar.“He expects the most of everyone on the team and doesn’t let you get away with anything regardless of who you are,” added Bragg.For Stitz, the 2001 baseball season will be his last. After 12 years at the helm of the program, Stitz announced his coaching retirement.“I am going to miss the satisfaction of working with the kids and taking them from a starting point to a finishing point at the end of the season,” said Stitz.“I will miss the excitement of the games and the competition and rivalries with county schools,” added Stitz. “That has really been the spice of coaching baseball while I have been at Tri-County.”For Stitz, who also spent 10 years at South Newton and three at St. Joseph College in Rensselaer, the 2001 season was difficult.“It has been pretty stressful and emotional after what we accomplished in 2000,” commented Stitz. “It has been like riding an emotional roller coaster. We have had some real highs and some really low periods that didn’t have anything to do with the playing field.”“Being rated preseason No. 1 was hard on the kids because the most difficult thing to deal with was our own expectations and handling our frustrations,” Stitz said. “I know I certainly learned somethings over the last two years. At this point I can’t put them to use but if I get back into coaching down the line they might be beneficial some other time.”
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