Senior Spotlight: West Mifflin infielder proud of program’s growth

Wednesday, April 29, 2020 | 12:17 PM

Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

Jaden Arcuri had plenty of ups and downs in her abbreviated three-year softball career at West Mifflin.

Starting as a freshman, the Titans struggled and finished 6-13 overall.

However, the program turned things around when Erik Hilligsberg took over in 2018 as the team finished a game over .500 and qualified for the playoffs, losing to Indiana in the Class 4A first round.

Last spring, West Mifflin finished tied for third place in the tough Section 2-4A, but once again lost to Indiana in the postseason.

Arcuri would have been a four-year starter this year. She finished with a .344 career batting average and was always one of the team leaders in on-base percentage.

“She has been one of our hardest working and most committed players over her high school career,” Hilligsberg said.

Arcuri was one the best defensive middle infielders in the WPIAL. She finished with a career fielding percentage of .970.

“Any time a ball was hit in her vicinity, I knew it was pretty much an automatic out,” Hilligsburg said. “Replacing her at second base next season will be tough. She will be missed.”

Arcuri will continue her education and softball career at Pitt-Greensburg.

Have you come to grips yet with the fact your Titans career is over?

Truthfully, I have not come to grips with the fact that my high school career is over, mainly because it all ended so fast. We had one scrimmage, then the next day there were rumors that we would be off for two weeks and before we knew it, the whole season was canceled. Very sad to say I’ll never play with my best friends again.

What have you been doing to stay in shape in general?

To stay in shape, I have been doing at-home workouts while also taking runs and walks on a track.

Have you been able to do anything softball related in an effort to stay sharp since all activities were shut down?

Yes, I have been hitting off a tee in my backyard while also having my dad catch with me and hit me ground balls.

Most kids might hesitate to admit it, but do you miss going to school?

While being in school, I was very excited to graduate and move on with my future, but now that it was all taken away, I will admit I miss it more than ever and wish things could go back to normal times.

How have you and your friends and teammates stayed in touch?

I have stayed in touch with my friends and teammates by checking in with each other over text and sometimes having group FaceTime calls for us all to catch up.

With all the things that go on for graduating seniors in the final three months of high school, what has been the most painful to miss out on outside of softball?

The most painful thing that I have missed out on, not counting softball, would be our senior prom and just making end-of-the-year memories with my best friends.

We’ll never know, but how good do you think the Titans would have been this spring after making the playoffs the last two years?

I feel like this season, we would have made it very far. We were a really young team, but there was tons of talent and commitment coming from everyone. We all wanted to win, and we all pushed each other to be our best. Our offensive lineup would’ve also been our strong point.

Coach Hilligsberg bragged about your defense. How much pride do you take in that aspect of your game?

I take tons of pride in my defense. While we faced some of the best pitchers in the WPIAL, not only did our offense have to be strong, but our defense had to be even stronger. With a strong pitcher going against us, every run mattered so it was important to focus in and try to not make errors in the field.

What are the strengths of your game and what do you have to work on?

One of my strengths would be that I am able to move past mistakes or errors and worry about the next pitch. Something I would like to improve on would be gaining more strength so I can be a more powerful hitter and become faster on the bases.

West Mifflin won six games your freshman season, 11 your sophomore year and 13 a year ago. What was it like being part of the turnaround of the Titans softball program?

Being a part of this turnaround was an amazing experience. Each year the team improved and took a big step forward, and it was so much fun to see the confidence grow in everyone each season. I have a feeling this season would’ve been our best, and we would have shocked many other teams.

What kind of advantage was it for you and your teammates to play your home games on turf?

Even though the weather is bad in our area during the season time, the turf enabled us to be able to practice when other teams might not have and it limited us having to reschedule games due to rainouts. Another advantage would be that the ball moves quicker on the turf, so it helped us improve with being quicker defensively.

What are you most excited about in looking ahead to next year and playing at Pitt-Greensburg?

Playing in college has always been my dream, and I’m most excited to meet new people and have a new start. As much as I am going to miss my best friends, I’m very excited to make new ones and play with a group of new faces.


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