St. Helens High athlete thrives on baseball, basketball
St. Helens High School senior Neil Wolfe is not one of those athletes content to play just one sport. Wolfe has played on both the basketball and baseball teams during his tenure with the Lions.
Baseball season is underway for the Lions, who defeated Central at the non-league Volcano Tourney in Salem, Wednesday, March 23, by the score of 13-3 before losing the next day to Stayton, 0-13.
Wolfe has always enjoyed both sports.
"I grew up watching baseball and basketball with my parents," Wolfe said. "I've always loved both of those sports. I've been playing them both since I was, probably, in kindergarten."
Asked how the training discipline differs from basketball to baseball, Wolfe, who pitches and plays first base for the Lions, said, "In basketball, practices can be more rigorous. You're constantly running. Baseball, it's really more of an IQ thing. You just have to practice, practice and practice, as much repetition as you can get."
Wolfe continued, "I've probably been more involved in baseball year-round rather than basketball because I played summer baseball and fall baseball, as well as the regular season."
Wolfe compared last baseball season with the season currently underway.
"It's definitely a lot different," Wolfe said. "Last year, obviously, we didn't have nearly as much practice time. The season was shorter. There was just less practice to be had. But this year, we get three weeks of practice before we even play a game. I think we're much more prepared this year than we were last year."
Wolfe looked ahead to the upcoming season and pointed out some traditionally tough teams.
"Wilsonville is always a good team, but I don't think anybody is unbeatable," he said. "I think we have one of the better leagues in the 5A, for sure. There are a lot of teams to watch out for. LaSalle and Putnam are also great teams, but I don't think there's a team that we can't compete with."
Wolfe appreciates working under the tutelage of new head coach Matt Lokken.
"So far, it's been great," he said. "Matt has been a great coach. It's his first year and he has already taken a hold of the program. He has already established a culture throughout the entire program about being disciplined and being a good student along with being a good athlete."
As to college plans, Wolfe has his eyes on a few Northwest schools: Eastern Oregon University, Western Oregon University and Pacific University.
"I'm still kind of in the process of deciding," Wolfe said. "I would love to play baseball at the next level, but I'm still exercising my options."
Could a professional baseball career be in the offing?
"It would be awesome if I could turn that into a career, but I'm not counting on it," Wolfe said.
Wolfe looked ahead to the current season, expressing optimism.
"I'm not expecting us to be first in the league or anything — I just want us to hit our ceiling and whatever that is, I would be happy with," Wolfe said. "I think our team can make it to the playoffs and win some games in the playoffs."
Wolfe added, "I'm definitely pretty confident. I'm looking forward to what our team can accomplish this year."
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