With four returning starters and a new head coach, Geneva’s baseball team enters the 2023 season optimistic about its chances to find success.
The Eagles finished 10-8 overall and 6-5 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division last spring.
“Being a new coach to the district, I was not sure what the overall makeup of the team would be,” said Geneva coach Terry Hejduk. “From the first open cage I held to yesterday’s practice, I have been most impressed with the overall work ethic the guys bring with them every day. Anytime there is change there will be different opinions and styles along with growing pains. I see these to be short-lived and expect us to compete at a high level from pitch No. 1. We return seven letter winners from last year but, overall, are a young squad with not a ton of varsity experience but a lot of summer ball innings under the belt.”
Hejduk approached his first season at Geneva armed with experience as a former athletic director and head coach.
He immediately identified three goals to build around.
“As a past AD and varsity head coach, I believe you always have three automatic goals to start the season,” he said. “Be the best team in your county, win a conference championship, and make a deep playoff run. From the first meeting we had together, the expectations were set high, and they will not be lowered. We understand the Chagrin Division has some big-time talent in it, but we believe we are up to the challenge.”
Jack Cafaro is one of three seniors on the roster, and he’ll be counted on to set a positive example for the rest of Geneva’s roster.
Cafaro will start in center field and see some time on the hill.
“Jack is a guy who has found the weight room over the past year,” Hejduk said. “He has been a surprise for me personally getting to know him and his skill set. He will be attending Syracuse University next year majoring in Broadcast and Digital Journalism. I am not sure he realizes it, but he has next-level baseball ability. This is his time to shine, and I look forward to big things from him.”
Second baseman Conner Anderson and outfielder Kenny Young are Geneva’s other seniors.
Junior Curtis Maier will start behind the plate for the Eagles.
“Curtis has the fastest hands on the team with the bat,” Hejduk said. “He understands how to hit and has a passion for the game. If he is on the field, he is smiling. His arm is something special behind the dish.”
Junior Shea Arkenburg will start at third base and pitch a lot of innings this spring, but also can play either middle infield position if needed.
“Shea has a big-time arm with great stuff,” Hejduk said. “The guys trust him and love when he has the ball in his hand. He will help stabilize the infield with his glove. Don’t overlook him in the box; he has added a ton of muscle and the ball jumps off the barrel.”
Junior Logan Queen will start in left field and pitch, but he also can provide depth at first base.
“He plays the game with the style I love, carefree, always smiling, and just enjoying life,” Hejduk said. “At the same time, he has the desire to beat whoever is against him. He is another guy in the building who benefited from the weight room. The young man is an animal. I have been super impressed with his overall mechanics and skill set.”
Junior Hewitt Wilt earned first-team All-CVC honors as an outfielder last year. He’ll move to first base this season.
“Hewitt is one of the most polished and pure baseball players I have been around,” Hejduk said. “He can do everything at an extremely high level. He will back up his performance last year with an even better one this year. You watch him waiting to see the next big-time play. He is our leader on the field hands down. I guarantee I will catch myself watching him as a fan of the game many times throughout the season.”
Junior Kean Arkenburg will spot up all over the lineup this spring. He’ll catch, play first, and pitch.
“Kean is our ‘Swiss Army Knife,’” Hejduk said. “The young man can do it all and has the team mentality that will allow him to succeed in this position. I am not sure I have seen his heart rate increase. He has the ability to slow down the game. He earned All-CVC honorable mention honors last year as a sophomore.”
Sophomores Andrew Oros and Kyle Hejduk round out the projected starting lineup.
Oros will start at shortstop but also can play third and Hejduk will lie up in right field or at DH.
“I almost don’t want to mention Andrew to catch the other teams off guard,” Hejduk said. “It will not take long for people to notice this young man. I look for Andrew to not only have a solid season but to collect some hardware along the way. I have not seen a player at his age be so calm. He swings it like an upperclassman and is flat-out smooth in the field. Colleges need to jump on this kid now.”
Wilt, a lefty, is projected to lead Geneva’s pitching staff followed by righty Shea Arkenburg and lefty Logan Queen. Oros, Maier, Kean Arkenburg, Cafaro, and Hejduk are all right-handed pitchers that will chew up some innings this season.
“I believe that even though we only really have two guys–Hewitt Wilt and Shea Arkenburg–with big-time varsity pitching experience on staff that our arms will lead us this year,” Coach Hejduk said. “Logan Queen and Andrew Oros have impressed me in their bullpens and have stuff that can be electric. You follow that up with Jack Cafaro and then the two dark horses in catchers Kean Arkenburg and Curtis Maier. Kean and Curtis strengths are they really have no clue how good they are.”
Hejduk is confident he has the pieces in place to achieve all of the goals he set for his team, but in high school baseball, you have to be ready to adapt and find consistency in difficult situations.
“We must buy into the team concept of defense,” he said. “In high school, you end up playing positions that you may not in the summer due to the makeup of your team. If we become as solid as I feel we can and buy into playing multi-positions and owning them we will be something special. We talk about errors and how they happen. We just need to let it go and move on to the next play. You could come watch us play and maybe see a lefty at short or third. You never know, we have the guys to do it.”