Walhalla’s Wolff finishes out career on high note
By Eric Sprott
WALHALLA — Outside of a few chances to throw and start preparing his arm for the long road ahead, Ben Wolff didn’t get much time to prepare for his senior season on the diamond.
To be exact, the recent Walhalla High School graduate had all of one practice before being thrust into action in a preseason tournament game.
The short preparation time was a product of Wolff’s role in a memorable season on the hardwood, as was an all-state guard for a Razorbacks squad that won the region crown for the first time in more than a decade and advanced to the Class 3A Upper State championship game.
And, by his own measure, Wolff said it took him a while to really get in the proper shape and mindset for baseball.
“That was pretty tough,” he said of the quick turnaround to baseball. “I think the biggest thing was just seeing the ball at the beginning at the plate. I wasn’t seeing the ball very well.”
Be that as it may, it’s hard to tell by looking at the numbers that Wolff — a standout pitcher and outfielder — needed much time to knock off the rust and find his groove for the Razorbacks in his senior campaign.
Wolff, The Journal’s All-Mountain Lakes Baseball Player of the Year, was 6-2 on the mound with a 1.89 ERA, while he struck out 59 batters against only 13 walks in 51.2 innings of action.
At the plate, meanwhile, the southpaw batted .390 with four doubles, nine RBI and 13 runs scored, as was named the Western 3A Player of the Year, earned all-state honors and was invited to play in the North-South All-Star Game.
Wolff is the second member of his family to be named The Journal’s area baseball player of the year, as his brother, Jake, earned the honor as a junior in 2010 before going on to play his college ball at Furman.
“I’ll always make sure he knows that I’m an all-state athlete in two sports, and he was only an all-state athlete in one,” the younger Wolff said with a laugh. “It’s nice to one-up him even though he has college baseball on me.”
As he alluded to, Wolff won’t be continuing his career at the next level, as he’s set to attend to Clemson and major in mathematical science with no out-of-pocket costs after finishing sixth in his class academically.
Wolff likely could have played in college — and he has considered walking on with the Tigers, but noted his academics come first — but Walhalla coach Bryan Alexander certainly understands his decision.
“He’s very rare as an 18-year-old kid, because he kind of gets the big-picture idea,” said Alexander, who stepped down after the season to focus on his family. “Ben is very intellectual … and he makes very good decisions in sports, and he almost never seems to make mental mistakes in games. I think that really helped him.
“He was the ideal athlete for a program and a school, because he showed that you can play multiple sports and still be the best.”
With Wolff leading the way, Walhalla finished 13-12 and advanced to the postseason after a fourth-place finish in the Western 3A region standings. However, the Razorbacks swept the regular-season series against eventual Upper State champion Seneca — they also beat the Bobcats in preseason action — and scored an upset victory over a higher-seeded Mid-Carolina squad on the road to open the playoffs.
With the way Walhalla — which had four seniors, including Wolff — flashed its potential, Wolff said it was an up-and-down season, but one he enjoyed to close out his career ahead of his next four years at Clemson.
And while it’s doubtful he’ll try to walk on with the Tigers, he’ll at least be a heck of a get during intramurals — whether on the hardwood or on the diamond.
“With Clemson being as big as it is, there’s always sports you can play, maybe just not at the collegiate level,” he said.
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