MADISON — Madison is the defending Western C softball champion. With pitcher Emily McKenney and several other talented players back this spring, the Bulldogs are among the favorites to win the regional and state titles.

This is not when a coach usually walks away, but that’s what Al Veneziano is doing.

Veneziano announced recently that he is resigning as Madison softball coach after 19 seasons, which included seven regional titles and five state championships. Madison athletic director Chris LeBlanc, an assistant to Veneziano for several years, will step in as softball coach and continue as athletic director.

Veneziano is also a successful girls basketball coach at Madison and is in his 27th season on the sidelines. He said he will continue to coach the girls basketball team for the foreseeable future.

“Doing two sports is very difficult, and doing back-to-back sports is extremely difficult,” Veneziano said. “At the end of last year, it was very tiring. I certainly will be a fan. I’ve been doing this too long to step away. The day-to-day practice stuff is what I want to get away from. I think the kids deserve someone with more energy.”

Also, Veneziano believes that cutting down to one sport will help him as a basketball coach.

“I do really enjoy it,” he said. “I think with this break, it’s going to give me more energy to do an even better job with the kids. I think it will be a benefit to them and to me.”

LeBlanc pointed out that he will be the third coach in the history of the softball program, after Colin Campbell and Veneziano.

“You have a program that started in the early 70s, and now will have only three coaches in 40-plus years of existence,” LeBlanc said.

LeBlanc credited Veneziano for carrying on the tradition that Campbell started, as well as being so willing to listen to his assistant coaches. Veneziano also put a lot of time into the program during the summer.

“A lot of our success, because the (softball) season is so short, is his involvement with ASA softball,” LeBlanc said. “We’d always have a Madison team (in the summer).”

LeBlanc’s daughter, Aly, was Madison’s starting catcher as a freshman last year. Another daughter, Sierra, graduated this spring.

“I have the support from Al, and the board, and the current administration, that I probably wouldn’t be afforded anywhere else,” LeBlanc said. “It’s a good fit. We come back with a pretty solid group, and it’s actually a group that’s been playing together for a good number of years. So it’s certainly enticing.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243[email protected]Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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