Eisenhower replaces 13 seniors with talented underclassmen

By: Thomas Franz | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 13, 2015

 Eisenhower senior Pete Zeimis receives a throw during a preseason practice. Zeimis will be a pitcher and third baseman this year.

Eisenhower senior Pete Zeimis receives a throw during a preseason practice. Zeimis will be a pitcher and third baseman this year.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — There’s almost a brand-new baseball team suiting up at Utica Eisenhower.

The Eagles graduated 13 seniors a year ago, and they will turn to four seniors and 11 underclassmen to fill those shoes.

“We’re going to grow up here in a hurry this year,” Eisenhower coach Jason Gendreau said. “It’s a different dynamic. There’s positives in both directions.”

Senior pitcher and third baseman Pete Zeimis is the top returner. As a junior, Zeimis went 5-2 with a 1.89 ERA and 36 strikeouts. He will be playing at Davenport University next year.

“We have a brand-new team this year, so I have to step up to make sure everyone is doing their jobs, and try to be a leader and role model for them,” Zeimis said. “It’s a lot different from being an underclassman and trying to fit in with them. Now, I’m the one that has to be in charge.”

Zeimis will be helped by three other seniors, who are all standout athletes. Pitcher and right fielder Trevor Olson will be playing at Owens Community College (Ohio), while pitcher and first baseman Trevor Curle has committed to play football at Saginaw Valley State. Second baseman K.J. Wilk, who is signed with Dominican University near Chicago, is a three-year varsity player.

The Eagles’ newcomers are headlined by junior infielder Andrew Szalkowski, sophomore left-handed pitcher and outfielder Ryan Chargo, and freshman first baseman and pitcher Joe Zontini.

“Our strengths are going to be our skill and speed. We’re very fast,” Gendreau said. “We have one returning varsity pitcher, so that’s going to be a learning curve for us.”

Gendreau said that Zontini is already being recruited by major Division 1 colleges.

“He (Zontini) is a humble and good kid. It’s not easy putting a freshman with older guys, but they’ve been good to him. They know he belongs. Other guys haven’t been as well received as him. There were people who argued them, but no one argues him. It’s a whole different level.”

Zontini and a host of other underclassmen should provide the Eagles with program stability for the next couple of seasons.

‘We’re young, and at junior varsity, it’s one of the more talented sophomore classes that I’ve seen here in eight years,” Gendreau said. “A lot of kids are going to get thrown into the fire, but the future in the next three years is very bright.”

Eisenhower will again be competing in the MAC Red, which had a very successful postseason a year ago. Grosse Pointe South played in the Division 1 state final after taking third in the league, and Sterling Heights Stevenson, which went undefeated in league games, made it to a state quarterfinal against South.

Eisenhower swept South last year, while Stevenson claimed its fifth straight league title.

“It’s hard to beat a team three times in anything in one year. South played really good on that day (in the quarterfinal), but Stevenson is the team to beat every year. We’ll be very competitive,” Gendreau said.

Eisenhower was scheduled to open league play against South with a three-game series April 13-16.

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