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Shepherd’s talented multitasker continues diamond success

HARRISONBURG, Va. – Opposing teams are hard-pressed to catch Spencer Wolfe playing out of position.

After all, he plays so many of them – and he does it well.

Shepherd University catcher Spencer Wolfe (center), who plays for the Front Royal Cardinals this summer in the Valley Baseball League, is seen Sunday during introductions of the North team roster for the VBL All-Star Game in Harrisonburg, Va. Wolfe will return to Shepherd this fall for his senior year after being instrumental in helping the Rams reach the NCAA Division II regional tournament.

Shepherd University catcher Spencer Wolfe (center), who plays for the Front Royal Cardinals this summer in the Valley Baseball League, is seen Sunday during introductions of the North team roster for the VBL All-Star Game in Harrisonburg, Va. Wolfe will return to Shepherd this fall for his senior year after being instrumental in helping the Rams reach the NCAA Division II regional tournament.

Wolfe, a rising senior at Shepherd University who is playing this summer for the Front Royal Cardinals, played three innings at first base on Sunday during the Valley Baseball League All-Star Game at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

The following night, he and Front Royal were back in action in the same stadium playing the Harrisonburg Turks, but Wolfe was starting behind the plate for the Cardinals at catcher as they won a league-best 19th game.

Wolfe earned third-team All-American honors this past season at Shepherd, batting .388 while helping lead the Rams to the most victories in program history and their first NCAA Division II regional tournament win since 2002.

For much of his junior season, Wolfe, a 6-0, 225-pound Huntingtown, Md., native, played catcher for the Rams, leading the team in home runs, doubles and runs scored. But he also started games and saw considerable playing time at first base, third base and shortstop, while stealing 21 bases and striking out just 11 times in 170 at-bats.

Wolfe, who was batting .315 with six doubles as of press time Tuesday, has even played some innings in the outfield this summer in Front Royal.

“Wherever I have to play to win is fine with me,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe’s versatility proved instrumental this spring as Shepherd finished its 2014 campaign with a 39-14 record, including a school-record 16-game winning streak smack dab in the middle of the season.

Nowhere was the first-team all-conference and all-region’s power and proficiency at the plate on display more abundantly than when he blasted three home runs, including a grand slam, during a weekend series against Notre Dame College in April in Shepherdstown.

On April 13, the Rams took an 8-0 lead when Wolfe cleared the bases in the fourth inning before Shepherd held on late for a school-record 16th consecutive win. Despite losing the nightcap a couple hours later and breaking the winning streak, Wolfe added a pair of home runs in a 9-4 loss.

“I hadn’t hit more than one home run in a game since high school,” he said. “That was special.”

Wolfe arrived in Shepherdstown last fall after spending three years at the University of South Carolina-Aiken, a perennial Division II power.

Wolfe, largely a pitcher and first baseman in high school after catching his sophomore and junior years, played his first year in college at third base after an injury to another player rushed him into service. He redshirted the following year and then played more sparingly for the Pacers during his sophomore year of eligibility.

USC-Aiken hitting coach Jason Walck, a 2005 Shepherd graduate, told Wolfe about Shepherd, which at the time would likely offer the talented utility player more playing opportunity.

“It’s also so close to home that it was a perfect fit for me,” Wolfe said.

Coincidentally, Shepherd opened the 2014 season with a winter roadtrip to Aiken, S.C., to face off against some of the best Division II baseball programs in the country, including Wolfe’s former school USC-Aiken.

During the season opener Feb. 7 against the then-No. 2-ranked Pacers, Shepherd fell behind early before mounting a comeback to tie the game 7-7 in the seventh. Wolfe had a two-run double to help key that rally, which ultimately fell short as USC-Aiken scored two runs late to pull ahead.

“It was a good experience,” Wolfe said. “It was good to see everyone. Obviously, I wish we came out on top. But it was a close game, and we came back and fought back. It was real emotional.”

The Rams will enter the 2015 season without departed senior All-American ace pitcher Paul Hvozdovic and All-American senior outfielder Michael Lott, as well as a handful of other key contributors. But Wolfe will return as the Mountain East Conference’s leading hitter following the departure of Lott and Concord University’s Bret Blevins.

Shepherd also stands to return several players who gained valuable experience during the program’s record run to a regular-season conference championship.

“It was a great season,” Wolfe said. “We got to go to regionals. I think that’s just putting Shepherd in the right direction. Where we should be and where we can be in years to come.

“We’re missing a couple of key guys in the top of the lineup,” Wolfe continued. “But the middle is all coming back. I think offensively we’ll be good. We have a couple of arms that are still here. … They all matured this year, and they know where we want to be. Hard work this fall will help us reach that.”

 

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