SHEPHERDSTOWN—After 22 seasons of mostly winning baseball, Shepherd baseball leader Wayne Riser will be leaving the only coaching job he ever had.
Riser graduated from Shepherd. He holds a master’s degree from the college. And he poured countless hours into the baseball facility the school calls Fairfax Field.
When Riser took over the head coaching position at Shepherd, he inherited a field that was shared with the football team that held its fall practice workouts in the outfield.
Through the years, Riser and his assistant coaches labored to give Fairfax Field the look of a useful and dignified baseball field-only.
He raised money through events such as his “Dinner on the Diamond”, 100-inning game, and advertising signs affixed to the chain link fence surrounding the outfield.
During his more than two decades of bringing quality baseball to Shepherd, Riser presided over such improvements to Fairfax Field as the addition of metal bleachers surrounding the home-plate area, a spacious press box, electronic scoreboard that was added this past season, large two-story storage facility in foul territory in leftfield, and a covered batting cage beyond the centerfield fence.
There was a sound system added along with a covering for the outfield fence, warning track in front of the outfield barrier, bullpen area in leftfield, much improved dugouts that were covered, a backstop netting, fencing along the first base area, concession stand, large tarp that covered the infield, small tarps for both home plate and the pitcher’s mound, a high quality dirt-surface infield, and grass infield and outfield surfaces that were superior to those he inherited.
Riser’s Rams won WVIAC championships in 2004, 2009, and 2012. When that league was divided into a Northern and Southern Division, his team had 10 divisional titles.
This past April, he passed the 500-win mark at the school. He finishes at Shepherd with 509 wins.
Shepherd qualified for five NCAA Division II regional tournaments, actually hosting one in 1997 when there was a school record 39 wins.
In 2012, Riser coached Nathan Minnich, the Tino Martinez Award recipient as the best player in the NCAA Division II ranks. Minnich became the only player Riser coached who was drafted by Major League baseball.
Riser has accepted the head baseball coaching position at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va. Mary Washington is an NCAA Division III school that in theory has no athletic scholarships.
Shepherd will have one more baseball season in the WVIAC. The 2013 season will find a new-to-the-job baseball coach at Fairfax Field. And in 2014, Riser will be in his second year at Mary Washington . . . and Shepherd will be in its first year in the Mountain East Conference, playing at the facility Riser turned from a sow’s ear to a silk purse in his 22 years on the job.