Vicini, a graduate of Lynch High School and the University of Kentucky, has been named the softball coach as part of what he describes as a team effort with Howard White, the coach of the Cumberland Lady Skins for the past 10 seasons.
“I wasn’t going to take the job unless Howardy agreed to take it with me,” Vicini said. “I’ll turn over all the strategy to him, and we’ll work together.”
White led the Lady Skins to district titles in 2001 and 2005. Last year’s squad was 20-9, finishing as runner-up to Middlesboro in the district. The Lady Skins were also the district runner-up in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
“We’re going to be one of these teams that goes up there swinging the bat. I believe in swinging the bat, playing defense like you’re supposed to and teaching the kids how to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played,” White said.
“We’ll make it fun for them, and they’ll enjoy playing for us.”
Vicini began his coaching career as an assistant on the Cumberland football staff under Tim Saylor in 1982 when the Redskins made their first of three trips to the Class A state finals in the decade. After serving 14 years as an assistant, Vicini was the head coach for seven seasons from 1997 to 2003. After resigning as head coach, Vicini worked one season at Bell County and one season at Cawood as an assistant coach before sitting out the past two years.
A teacher for 26 years, Vicini currently works at Cumberland Elementary School. He also worked 15 years as a baseball umpire and four as a softball umpire.
Vicini said he’s followed the Cumberland girls softball team for almost a decade, since his daughter, Lindsey, began playing.
“When she graduated, I kept watching, and I’m familiar with most of the girls on the team this year. I’ve been a fan of girls softball for a while,” Vicini said.
Cumberland returns six starters, including star pitcher Kelsey Day. Even though both programs have struggled for several years, Cawood and Evarts are also expected to contribute several good young players to the roster.
“I think we’ll be real competitive. I do know enough about fast-pitch softball to know that pitching is 80 to 90 percent of the game, and we have a good one coming back in Kelsey Day,” Vicini said. “There is a lot of talent around the county. I think there’s enough to compete for a regional title, without a doubt.”
Vicini said he’s noticed a “big change” in the quality of softball over the past decade, noting that Cumberland Elementary School has started a program and he’d like to see others competing. The Tri-City Little League has offered softball for several years, and the Harlan Little League reinstated its program this spring with five teams.
“These girls are getting experience at the Little League level and learning how to pitch and play fast-pitch softball at a much earlier age,” Vicini said. “There’s a lot more talent that will be developed by the time they get to high school.”
White said weight lifting would begin after fall sports end for the girls not playing basketball. He also doesn’t expect to have any trouble in bringing players from three schools together.
“I don’t think there will be a problem. I believe they will come together,” White said. “Most of mine know most of Cawood’s and Evarts’ girls.”