With seven returning starters and two others with varsity experience, Geneva is a team to watch this spring.
The Eagles finished 14-14 last spring and with their hard work during the offseason, head coach Eleshia Pitcher is confident her squad is trending in the right direction.
“I am really excited about this season,” Pitcher said. “We are still pretty young but we are returning nine players from last season, seven of them starters, and our incoming freshmen should make an impact in my lineup right away. This group is very determined to improve and has worked hard during the offseason to improve.
Pitcher will lean on those seniors to set the tone for the rest of the squad.
Daliz Alvarez already has established herself as one of the top players in the Chagrin Valley Conference.
Last spring, the Lakeland Community College commitment batted .488 with a .646 on-base percentage and posted a 2.94 earned run average. She’ll pitch and play center field this spring.
“She plays with such intensity and her leadership skills are off the chart,” Pitcher said. “As a junior, Daliz was first-team CVC for pitching, first-team All-County, second-team News-Herald, team golden glove, and highest batting average winner.”
Geneva’s other seniors—Gianna Logan and Ashlen Horowoski—have stepped up with Alvarez to keep the Eagles focused on their goals.
Horowoski, a second baseman, earned honorable mention All-CVC honors last spring in her first year playing softball.
“This is only Ashlen’s second season ever playing softball and she was CVC honorable mention last season and the team’s most improved (player),” Pitcher said. “She has worked super hard in the offseason and has won her spot at second base.”
Junior shortstop Carmen Alvarez returns after earning her team’s MVP award last spring. She also was named second-team All-CVC and first-team all-county. She batted .383 with a .538 on-base percentage and led the Eagles in stolen bases.
Sophomore Abby Stash returns at third after batting .463 with a .598 on-base percentage and 28 runs batted in. She was named first-team all-county and honorable mention News-Herald.
“Carmen always strives for perfection and pushes the other players to be better,” Pitcher said. “Abby returns to third base after an outstanding freshman season.”
The rest of Geneva’s projected starting lineup includes sophomores Alyssa Palmisano, Bailey Evangelista, and Jordyn Alderman, and freshman Savannah Burton.
Palmisano will catch. She hit .353 last season and knocked in 29 runs. Evangelista will play first and Alderman will be in right field after batting .358 last spring with a .500 on-base percentage.
Burton will start in left and also play second base. She’ll set the table as Geneva’s leadoff hitter.
Alderman and freshman Annabelle Bragg also will pitch. Alderman posted a 2.86 earned run average last season. Bragg also will see time at second base.
Sophomore Alexis Shuttleworth will provide depth in the outfield.
“We have five new faces on our roster this year and all of them will be making an immediate impact in our lineup,” Pitcher said. “Our strength is our overall determination and dedication to build as a team and improve every practice.”
Despite Pitcher’s confidence in her squad, there are some things that are out of the Eagles control this spring. To achieve their goals, they’ll have to overcome Northeast Ohio’s unpredictable weather while developing their overall softball IQ.
“As anyone in this area, the weather is always our biggest challenge. It’s hard to prepare your defense in a gym,” Pitcher said. “We have to improve our game knowledge and stay focused on what’s going on around us.”