Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

June 13, 2014

GC Baseball: CHS' Layton Wolver named Golden Circle MVP

Corsicana — It was just one of those pre-district, early-season games in one of those early-season tournaments. Layton Wolver doesn't even remember who the Corsicana Tigers were playing.

He remembers the shot.

It wasn't heard around the world, but it made enough noise to lift Wolver off his feet and catapult the Tiger shortstop to the best season of his life.

“We were playing in the West Tournament at the beginning of the season and I hit a home run over the center field wall,'' Wolver said this week. “It was my first home run in high school. I knew then that it was going to be a good year when I hit my first high school home run.''

Boy, was he right.

Wolver took off and never slowed down, running, bunting, stealing and making plays at short that left everyone who watched the diminutive dynamo wondering what was next for the kid whose motor never stopped running.

When it was over, Wolver found himself atop the Golden Circle and the winner of the 2014 GC Most Valuable Player award.

He is only a sophomore.

“In baseball, it doesn't matter how old you are. It's how you play,'' Corsicana Coach Heath Autrey said. “I don't even consider him a sophomore. Layton Wolver could play center field or second base right now in college.''

Autrey said Wolver's talent on the diamond was one thing, but it wasn't the only thing.

“His maturity level for being as young as he is, his poise and confidence and always being under control supersedes all of his baseball abilities,'' Autrey said.

Wolver said the difference this season was one thing:

“Confidence,'' he said. “I felt really good about my year. I think it had a lot to do with confidence — just having confidence in yourself. It was a lot different this year. I wasn't a freshman any more. I started off really good and it kind of boosted my confidence.''

Confidence climbed in the batter's box with Wolver, who had 42 hits in 31 games and hit .429 for the season. He had a .517 on-base-percentage and drove in 14 runs while batting in the leadoff spot. For a little guy, Wolver has plenty of pop, and hit two homers and just missed belting a grand slam in the playoffs against Mansfield Summit in the playoffs when his shot to left sailed a few feet foul.

But Wolver can do more with a ball that travels a handful of feet than anyone in this part of Texas.

He became the spark that ignited Corsicana's small-ball attack that carried the Tigers into the area round of the playoffs, where Corsicana played Hallsville tough in a best two-out-of-three series. Hallsville went on to finish second in the Class 4A state tournament.

Wolver drove opponents nuts with his speed and set the tone for almost all of Corsicana's games.

He not only stole 32 of 33 bases, but scored 43 runs in just 31 games.

“He really bought into the drag bunting and bunting for hits,'' Autrey said. “His greatest weapon is his speed. The average major league ball player runs a 6.8 (in the 60-yard dash) and Layton runs a 6.58. He has the ability to hit .500.''

Wolver burns up the bases, and runs down popups like he was born to catch them.

“He can catch a popup anywhere on the field,'' Autrey said. “He's the best I've ever coached at catching popups, and I've coached some good ones. He's a center fielder playing shortstop.

“He gets the job done, and he plays the game right and works hard,'' Autrey said. “He plays the game the same way all the time.''

After hitting .261 as one of the Golden Circle's Newcomers of the Year in 2013, Wolver's meteoric rise as a sophomore might have surprised or even shocked some. But not Autrey.

“Nothing he does surprises me,'' Autrey said. “I wouldn't say anything he did this season was unexpected. He works hard, and he always has worked hard. His dad had a lot to do with it. His dad has prepared him for this.''

Wolver, who spends his summers playing for the Waco Buzz select team, has been playing organized baseball since he was a 4-year-old in T-ball, and started even before that.

“When I started throwing the ball I was about 3,'' Wolver said. “Ever since I started throwing the ball I loved baseball. I've always had a passion for it.''

It shows. Wolver lights up the diamond with energy and drive, the consummate sparkplug who finds a way to get on base and score — who finds a way to win. He gives the credit to his father, Jimmy Wolver.

“I remember playing catch with my dad in the front yard when I was 3,'' he said. “I couldn't have done any of this without my dad. My dad was always there to keep me going. He's always been there to support me. If not for him, I couldn't go to all (Select team games) and do all the things I've done.''

Jimmy Wolver can be pretty proud on Father's Day this year.

Layton Wolver is the 2014 Golden Circle Most Valuable Player.

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