[Karen Naess for Shaw Media]
Geneva's Croci in the zone
Benjamin Croci is lighting up the strike zone.
Croci, a senior pitcher and outfielder for Geneva, has 23 strikeouts entering this week. Allowing just one earned run one 11 hits in 14 innings pitched, his earned run average is 0.50.
Not bad for a player who only pitched two innings last year due to injury.
"In his first four outings, he's been just dominant," Geneva coach Brad Wendell said. "I think the reason for it is the kid has worked his tail off in the offseason...he committed his whole offseason and everything for this season."
Croci features a fastball, curveball, changeup and a slider. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Croci was slated to start Geneva's second conference games this week against Wheaton Warrenville South.
"I think really the success is having [the] confidence to throw every one of them as a strike," Wendell said.
The Vikings (6-3-1) are enjoying collective success on the mound, as Blake Breon is another top performer. Breon is enjoying a bounce-back season of his own after adjusting to the varsity level as a junior. In 12.2 innings pitched, Breon has a 3-2 record and 10 strikeouts entering this week.
"At times last year, we put him on the mound [and] he struggled to throw strikes," Wendell said. "That was his big issue, but he's worked hard in the offseason also...he's just pitching with confidence [now]."
On April 6, Burlington Central handled DeKalb 9-3 and got standout performances from a number of individuals. Adam Payton went 4.1 innings pitched of relief and gave up zero earned runs. Braden Seyller reached base five times, and Cody Carlson had three RBIs.