Just about everything went right for Geneva pitcher Andy Honiotes during his junior season last year.
So far, his senior season is proving to be anticlimactic by comparison.
Honiotes hasn't felt right, physically, this spring, and his status for the rest of the season is unclear after leaving Tuesday's game against St. Charles North in the second inning with continued elbow discomfort. Honiotes said a follow-up appointment with Dr. Kevan Ketterling of Fox Valley Orthopedics revealed irritation in his ulnar nerve.
"I haven't really felt good since late August, to be honest with you," Honiotes said. "I kind of tweaked my elbow at the back end of summer season. I was doing physical therapy for my elbow but I feel that might have been a misdiagnosis or they didn't catch it right away because it hasn't really gotten better at all. I've just been trying to pitch through it this season and then [Tuesday] I kind of got to the point where I didn't feel like I was helping my team by trying to go out there."
Honiotes, a Miami recruit, could return to the mound by early May, but that might not be the case.
"Right now it's about two weeks I'm supposed to be out but I spoke to [Geneva coach Matt Hahn] and other people that I'm not going to come back unless I feel 100 percent," Honiotes said. "I feel like I have a lot more baseball ahead of me and it's not worth trying to come back too soon from an injury my senior year of high school. I'm just going to do everything I can to get back as soon as possible."
As a junior, Honiotes went 7-0 with a 1.01 ERA and 74 strikeouts compared to 17 walks. Just about all of his statistics have been well off that pace this season, including a jarring 0-4 record.
Honiotes, whose fastball was in the 90 mph range in the past, has been about 10 mph off that velocity so far this season.
The loss of their ace right-hander moves to the top of a crowded list of challenges for this year's Vikings, many coming on the medical front.
Another Division-I bound right-hander, Jordan Touro, has seen limited action after dislocating a finger in the Vikings' season opener. Touro, though, is rounding back into form, and should help keep the Vikings' pitching staff afloat alongside fellow starting candidates such as Tony Landi, Max Novak and Brock Chenier.
Additionally, key position players Mitch Endriukaitis and Jake Weede have gone down with injuries. Endriukaitis, the team's starting third baseman and a three-year varsity performer, might be out for the season with a hand injury sustained earlier this month against Metea Valley.
The personnel challenges appear to be taking a toll on the Vikings, who fell to 5-7 overall and 2-5 in Upstate Eight Conference River play with Tuesday's 4-2 loss to St. Charles North. Wednesday's scheduled second game of the teams' three-game series was rained out.
The Vikings are coming off a strong 2012 season in which they were the top-seeded team in their sectional before being upset by Bartlett in a regional semifinal.
"Our message to them [Tuesday] night was just keep competing, keep working hard," Hahn said on Wednesday afternoon. "We're a good baseball team and, at some point, we're going to get healthy. Things are going to click, and hopefully we're peaking at the right time of the season.
"[Postseason] seeds don't mean a whole heck of a lot. If you went by the seeds, we should have been playing for a state title last season."
Honiotes said he plans to work with an occupational therapist in the coming weeks. He said he has "full confidence" in his teammates and thinks better days are on the horizon for the Vikings.
"I feel that we're going to press through this, and I'm going to do everything I possibly can to help," Honiotes said. "Even if I can't pitch, there are other things I can do to help, but I feel like we're going to turn this around."