With six returning starters, Geneva’s softball team has high hopes for the 2023 season.
The Eagles, who finished 12-9 overall and 5-3 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Lake Division, are confident they’ll be in the hunt for a conference title and a deeper run in the postseason.
“We have high hopes for this season despite being a young team,” said Geneva coach Eleshia Pitcher. “We have great leaders coming back in Carmen (Alvarez) and Alyssa (Palmisano) and they are pushing these younger players and making them better. These girls have set their sights on a conference win this year and advancing in the tournament.”
Those are lofty goals for a team with just one senior and three juniors, but Pitcher is confident her squad will be up to the challenge.
“Even though we are returning six starters, we are still a very young team, so we will take a few bumps in the road along the way until we figure it all out,” she said. “(Our strength is) our pitching depth since we are blessed with five pitchers this year. This team also has an incredible determination and drive to get better.”
Alvarez is the team’s lone senior.
She returns at shortstop for the fourth straight season after batting .551 last spring on the way to earning first-team All-CVC and All-Ashtabula County honors.
“You cannot say enough about Carmen,” Pitcher said. “She is determined to lead this underclassman (group) to a winning season.”
Palmisano is a junior catcher. She batted .356 last spring on her way to landing second-team All-CVC and all-county honors.
“Allysa is coming back as a third-year starter,” Pitcher said. “She outworks everyone on the team and is one of our team leaders.”
Sophomore Savannah Burton returns at third base after earning second-team All-Ashtabula County honors last year when she batted .429. She’ll also see some time in the circle.
Junior Bailey Evangelista will play first base and freshman Gianna Markijohn is starting at second.
“Bailey was our most improved player last year and returns at first base for us this year. She has worked really hard over the winter and her bat has really come to life,” Pitcher said. “Gianna will also spend some time on the mound for us this year. Despite being a freshman, I look for her to make an immediate impact in our lineup.”
Junior Alexis Shuttleworth returns to her starting position in right field while freshmen Addelynne Sheppard and Claire Cafaro will play left and center field, respectively.
“Alexis returns to our outfield this year. She batted .340 last season and was named first-team CVC last season and won our coaches award. She has really worked hard the last couple years and has become one of our leading hitters,” Pitcher said. “Addie will also spend some time behind the plate this year. She brings a great bat and flexibility to our lineup because she can play any place we put her. I also look for her to make an immediate impact in our lineup. Claire will also spend time on third base when Savannah is pitching. She is a very talented player who swings a great bat and she’s another freshman we are expecting big things from this year.”
Sophomore Annabelle Bragg earned honorable mention all-conference honors last spring for her work in the circle. She leads a pitching staff that also includes Burton, Markijohn, Evangelista, and freshman Brooklyne Phillips.
“Annabelle has worked really hard in the offseason perfecting her pitching and improving her batting,” Pitcher said. “She is probably my most underrated player I have on my roster.”
Junior Irelyn Mongell will see time in the outfield and Kailyn Cerjan will provide depth at second base for the Eagles.
The Eagles are relatively young but they have plenty of game experience.
If they can consistently produce runs and play clean defense, their goals are well within their reach.
“We need to stay out of our heads and minimize mistakes instead of compounding them,” Pitcher said.