Bertagnolli resigns as Rebellion manager after only 12 games

June 18, 2014
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Rick Bertagnolli
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Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter
Stacey Rice replaced Rick Bertagnolli as manager of the Rebellion. Order a Print

Rick Bertagnolli’s stay as manager of the Pennsylvania Rebellion pro softball team lasted a dozen games.

Bertagnolli, who was hired in January for the Rebellion’s inaugural season in the National Pro Fastpitch league, resigned Wednesday in an email sent to team owner Stu Williams.

Bertagnolli was replaced by Stacey Rice, an assistant coach under Bertagnolli. Rice will manage the team for the remainder of the 48-game season. Rice got her first victory as the Rebellion scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning with two out for a 2-1 win over the Chicago Bandits at Consol Energy Park last night.

Efforts to reach the 54-year-old Bertagnolli, who also is the head coach of the California University softball team, were unsuccessful.

“The coach resigned for personal reasons,” said Williams. “He didn’t share what the personal reasons were, so I don’t know if this was coming for a while or not. But nothing really surprises me in professional sports.”

Williams said he has confidence in Rice and her assistant Stephani Moore.

“I met with the team, and I got a very positive feeling about it,” Williams said. “So we’ll just see how things go for a little while.”

The Rebellion were mired in a nine-game losing streak and entered Wednesday night’s game with a 2-10 record and in last place in the four-team league. The Rebellion had been outscored 59-11 during the losing streak.

Rice, who just landed the head coaching job at Slippery Rock University after serving as an assistant there, said Bertagnolli’s resignation was a surprise.

“It wasn’t something that was ever discussed,” she said. “People have to do things they have to do. This was for personal reasons.”

Rice felt the losing streak played no part in the decision.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “He wouldn’t be in it if things like that (affected him). We didn’t do anything different in this game than in the last 12. It just worked out for us this time.”

Moore, 36, spent six seasons as head coach of Washington & Jefferson College’s softball team and seven seasons at Cal as Bertagnolli’s assistant.

“I was at my softball camp when he called and told me he resigned,” said Moore. “I don’t know anything else.”

Rice and Moore said they will work together on the decision-making process.

“I’ve known Stacey forever,” said Moore. “My role is probably going to change. But these are great ladies and the ownership is great. I’m really excited to see what happens.”

Bertagnolli, 54, was named manager Jan. 22 following a nationwide search. Bertagnolli has a sparkling collegiate record, coaching Cal for the past 20 years and leading the Vulcans to NCAA Division II championships in 1997 and 1998. He has a 667-221 record at Cal and led the Vulcans to 17 NCAA tournament appearances.

Overall, Bertagnolli has a career coaching record of 929-271 and was recently inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He is fourth among active coaches in NCAA Division II winning percentage at .774 and is the winningest coach in Cal’s athletic history.

The Rebellion finish their two-game home series with the Bandits tonight (7 p.m.), then have the next eight days off before a four-game road series against the Akron Racers.

“He’s a good man who has had an illustrious career in softball,” Williams said. “Deciding to leave this situation would be a very difficult one for him. I respect whatever his reasons are for doing this and just hope that whatever caused him to do this is (something) that can be dealt with by the coach.”

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.

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