Geneva enters the 2022 season with a lot of potential and an eye on improvement.
The Eagles, who finished 8-12-1 overall and 3-8-1 in the Chagrin Valley Conference last spring, return five starters and a host of others who gained valuable varsity experience last season.
“We will be better than last year,” said Geneva coach Roger Wilt. “We have strong leadership from our upperclassmen, with our four returning starting and lettermen sophomores that have really grown in the offseason. We were averaging about 12 players during our offseason workouts and are already seeing the results. There are even a couple of freshmen that are challenging for playing time.”
Geneva’s biggest challenge this spring has been getting outside for practice, which has limited the team’s preseason development, especially on defense.
“It’s the Northeast Ohio weather that I believe will be our biggest challenge,” Wilt said. “The first time we actually played ball on the field was for a scrimmage. We will have to play better defense than previous years; we can’t allow big innings.”
Wilt is going to lean on his talented and experienced pitching staff and team speed to set the tone for the season.
“Pitching and speed are our strengths this year,” he said. “Leading off the pitching rotation will be Gannon University commitment Wyatt Fuduric followed by three experienced sophomores that will allow us to be competitive all week long. Last year, the team had 63 stolen bases. We will definitely be building on that.”
Fuduric will play first base when he isn’t pitching.
“In addition to being the ace of the staff, he will have plenty of RBI opportunities batting cleanup with the speed in front of him,” Wilt said. “I look for him to be a big producer on the mound and at the plate.”
Hewitt Wilt, Shea Arkenburg, Jack Cafaro, Curtis Maier, Ben Turchan, Merrick Cunningham, and Clayton Queen also will pitch for the Eagles.
Kean Arkenburg and Maier will split time behind the dish.
“(Arkenburg) is one of our strongest players behind the dish and at the plate. He had the team’s highest batting average and shared the Rookie of the Year,” Wilt said. “(Maier) will hit in the middle of the lineup, as well as play multiple positions, and will again lead the team in hit by pitch.”
Queen will start at second base and Cunningham will play shortstop. Turchan rounds out the projected starting infield at third base.
“Having lost the last two seasons due to injury and COVID, it is going to be great having (Cunningham) back in the middle of the diamond,” Wilt said. “(Turchan) will be holding down the hot corner for us this year and will be definitely eating up some innings on the mound.”
Hewitt Wilt, Cafaro, Shea Arkenburg, Kean Arkenburg, and Maier will fill the outfield positions.
Wilt earned second-team all-county and honorable mention all-CVC honors last spring. Shea Arkenburg was one of the co-Rookies of the Year and was an honorable mention all-county honoree. Cafaro is moving back to the outfield to utilize his speed and reliable glove.
Freshmen Andrew Oros and Kyle Hejduk will provide the Eagles with depth.