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FRONT ROYAL -- The Front Royal Cardinals have announced their new manager for the 2011 Valley Baseball League season.
Nathan Schwartz, who guided the Laramie Colts of the Mountain Collegiate League in 2010, will take over the Cardinals next season. Schwartz replaces Joe Scarano, who led the Cardinals to a spot in the VBL championship series this past season. Front Royal lost two straight to the Luray Wranglers in the best-of-three finals for the Lineweaver Cup.
In addition to his managing experience in Laramie, Schwartz served two years (2008-09) as the pitching coach of the Eau Claire Express in the Northwoods Collegiate Baseball League. During his tenure there, 21 players Schwartz coached were either signed or drafted by a Major League affiliated team.
A native of Wisconsin, Schwartz has served for the past three years as an assistant baseball coach at NCAA Division II Texas-Permian Basin. Prior to that, he spent two years as an assistant at his alma mater, Augustana College. Schwartz, a former pitcher, played collegiately at Madison Area Technical College for two seasons before transferring to Augustana. He was an all-conference pick for the South Dakota school and was twice named as the Augustana Pitcher of the Year (2005 and 2006).
The Cardinals also announced that former catcher Russell Bennett will return as an assistant coach next season. Bennett, a Georgia native, spent the 2004 season as Front Royal's starting catcher.
A graduate of Georgia State, Bennett was an Honorable Mention Freshman All-American, and won team MVP honors and first-team all-conference accolades in 2003. He ranked in the top 10 in numerous offensive categories, including fourth all-time in career home runs and RBIs, third in single-season RBIs (63, in 2003) and career walks.
Last season, Bennett was an assistant coach for the Homeplate Chuckars in the Sunbelt Collegiate League.
In a news release, Front Royal team president Donna Settle said the Cardinals' new coaching staff will bring "an enthusiastic approach" along with experience and recruiting contracts to the club.