Pitt baseball coach Jordano is embracing some new challenges

| Friday, March 9, 2012

Joe Jordano has an incredible amount of respect for former Pitt baseball coach Bobby Lewis, but you might not know it from how aggressively the current Panthers coach attacked his predecessor's all-time wins record.

Jordano picked up victory No. 403 on Friday with a 3-1 win at Coastal Carolina, giving him the program record in 14-plus years — pretty impressive when compared to the 36 years it look Lewis (1955-90) to set the mark.

"I have the utmost respect for Coach Lewis and what he established at Pitt," said Jordano, who has been the coach at Pitt since 1998 and has compiled a 405-336-2 record. "I'm honored and humbled to be a part of Pitt baseball history."

Jordano played four years of baseball at Westminster College, graduated in 1985 and became the coach at NCAA Division II Mercyhurst two years later.

He led the Lakers to a 283-118 record during his 10-year tenure and was named Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year three consecutive times before taking the job at Pitt.

Jordano had winning records in seven of his 14 years before this one. He helped a program-record six players get selected in the 2011 Major League Baseball Entry Draft.

But this year has been a challenge for the veteran coach. With everybody except right fielder Casey Roche playing a new position or trying to assume a new role, Pitt (6-5) has struggled to find offensive continuity.

Combine that with the Panthers' recent pitching woes — they've given up seven or more runs in seven of 11 games — and Jordano has been forced to do some of his finest work this season.

"The great thing about coaching is that every year there are new challenges," Jordano said. "You embrace those challenges. You make the personnel that you have work into the system that you believe in."

Who plays who

Curious which local basketball teams will be playing in an NCAA Tournament• Check this out:

> > In Division II men's hoops, No. 1 seed West Liberty will host the eight-team Atlantic Regional for a second straight year. The Hilltoppers (29-2) will face No. 8 East Stroudsburg (20-11) at 6 p.m. Saturday.

> > Indiana (Pa.) is the No. 7 seed. The Crimson Hawks (23-5) open with No. 2 Shaw (25-3) at 2:30 p.m. today.

> > In Division II women's hoops, No. 1 seed Edinboro (28-1) will host the eight-team Atlantic Regional for a second straight year and will entertain No. 8 seed West Chester (21-7) at 6 p.m. today.

> > No. 5 seed IUP (22-6) plays No. 4 Bloomsburg (26-5) at 8:30 p.m. today, and No. 6 Gannon (21-6) battles No. 3 seed Johnson C. Smith (22-6) at noon today.

Beat, not meet, Virginia

The Penn State women's lacrosse team upset No. 6 Virginia, 14-7, on Sunday, snapping the 19th-ranked Nittany Lions' six-game losing streak in the series.

Virginia has won three NCAA Division I women's lacrosse titles and appeared in the championship game six more times, but junior attack Molly Fernandez scored four goals and sophomore attack Mackenzie Cyr added three more to give the Nittany Lions (4-2) arguably the biggest win of coach Missy Doherty's tenure.

It's academic

The Slippery Rock field hockey team had the best grade-point average (3.51) in NCAA Division II last fall according to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association. The mark is the fifth best when including Division I and Division III schools. Slippery Rock qualified for the PSAC playoffs for the first time since 1987 last fall.

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