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When Daryl Hixenbaugh resigned as the Belle Vernon baseball coach in May, several people applied.

Belle Vernon Director of Athletics Matt Humbert did not have to go far to find a replacement as the school board hired Tony Watson, a Belle Vernon grad, to take over.

Watson, a 1993 graduate who pitched at Waynesburg University, is excited to take over the program.

“It means everything to me to be able to coach at my alma mater,” Watson said. “To have the support of the AD, the school board and the community, I could not ask for more.

“We want to develop as many players as we can so they have a chance at scholarships at the next level as their education comes first.”

For the last six years, Watson served as the pitching coach under Hixenbaugh. While the program has made the playoffs five straight seasons, Watson will look to help the team earn its first playoff win since 2012.

“The goals will always begin with winning the section and going deep in the playoffs, but it starts with the offseason,” Watson said. “We are going to be a young team and will have a fall workout program set within the next few weeks.”

Watson is finalizing his staff and is excited that Steve Hoffman will be the lead assistant.

“Steve is the head assistant coach and we have built great relationships over the last six years with the players and community,” Watson said. “We are entrenched a lot of things and in the program.”

When Hixenbaugh told Watson he was stepping down, Watson, an office manager for a State Farm insurance agency, figured he would give it a shot.

“I thought it may be a possibility, and when Hix stepped down, I heard from a lot of the players asking me to apply,” he said. “This could not have worked out any better and it is time to get to work.”

Humbert believes the right man has the job.

“I am excited about Tony taking over,” he said. “He will provide continuity for the players and parents as well as take the program in a new direction.”

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Sports Editor

Since 1986, Chris Dugan has been covering local sports for the Observer-Reporter, and named sports editor in 2006. Before joining the O-R, he was sports editor at the Democrat-Messenger, and a former member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

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