March 14, 2007

Wolf Seeks Consistency Coming off Injury

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Junior Ashley Wolf should have been celebrating after one of the best weeks of her softball career. Over a six-game stretch against St. Bonaventure, Dartmouth and Harvard, Wolf went 12-for-25 at the plate (.480) with six RBIs, a home run and a double. After that breakout performance, the right fielder was named Ivy League Player of the Week last April 12.

Although Wolf was happy to receive the honor, its announcement coincided with some frustrating news.

“The day I found out was also the day I got my wrist x-rayed and found out it was broken, [so there were] kind of mixed feelings,” she said.

Wolf missed the remainder of the season after April 11, when she was hit by a pitch in a 7-0 loss on the road to Canisius College.

Undergoing physical therapy in the off-season, she felt a little rusty in the fall but was ready by the beginning of the 2007 season to take her place in right field and at the top of the lineup. Facing Niagara in the Red’s season-opening first game of the George Mason Classic, Wolf went 2-for-3 at the plate and scored twice in the 10-2 win.

As of last weekend — when the Red extended its winning streak to 10 games — Wolf is one of the Red’s leaders both offensively and defensively. With a perfect fielding percentage and a .438 batting average, she has also posted team highs for hits (14) and runs scored (11).

Even though she her season was cut short, Wolf led the Ancient Eight in batting average (.411) last year. Though she still considers herself to hit for average more than power, she is working to become a threat in both areas.

“She’s made a lot of adjustments in the off season to be able to drive the ball,” said head coach Dick Blood. “[Before] she was primarily a singles hitter and in fact a ground-ball-to-middle singles hitter. [But our first weekend of games] she knocked two balls off the fence.”

The head coach also thinks that Wolf has developed in another important, but often overlooked aspect of the game.

“She’s starting to better understand her potential on the bases. [At the George Mason Classic] there was a bleeder into center field,” Blood said. “She was on second base, and she was able to round the bag and turn the jets on, coming to third base easily, whereas a year ago she would have hesitated. … Some of the things have to be done without coaching … so I’m hoping that her instincts start to shine [this season].”

The sociology major, however, relies on softball I.Q. as much as skills and reflexes. Wolf regularly discusses situations with the coaching staff.

“She’s a very cerebral player, trying to understand the play,” Blood said.

Not surprisingly, the leadoff batter’s main personal goal is to stay consistent coming in the season.

“[My attitude is to] try not to be overanxious at the plate and be calm since it’s been such a long time since I’ve played,” Wolf said.

This year, Wolf — healthy and off to a strong start — is looking forward to another shot at the Ivy title.