Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

There are five tools that a baseball player is measured by: the ability to hit for power, hit for average, field the ball, throw the ball and run the bases. All players at a college level have at least on of these tools, many of them two or even three. But it is rare to find somebody that posseses all five. It is uncommon to find that player that can win a game in five different ways, day in and day out.
West Chester has been lucky enough to have one of these players for the last four years. Through his career at West Chester, second baseman Joe Wendle has taken baseball to a whole different level, matching up with some of the greatest players to play for the Golden Rams in their 120 year history.
Wendle, a product of Avon Grove High School, joined West Chester in 2009 and found immediate success playing baseball at the collegiate level. In his freshman season, he started every game for the Golden Rams, and his number showed why. That year Wendle hit .325 with 2 home runs, 15 stolen bases, and 36 runs batted in. He knocked in two runs or more on eight seperate occasions that season.
The Rams went to the NCAA Final Four that year, where Wendle shined in the spotlight. He set a career high with six RBI in the PSAC Championship game, and just a few weeks later homered in the NCAA Atlantic Regional championship game. Pressure meant nothing to him.
As a sophomore and junior, Wendle continued to impress, putting up seemingly impossible numbers. The 2010 season was Wendle’s real breakout year offensively and defensively. At the plate, his .389 average was tops on the team, and he slugged seven homers while knocking in 58 runs. His 32 extra base hits skyrocketed his slugging average to .635, yet he still showed great speed and base running ability by swiping 18 bags in 21 attempts. He also hit safely in 23 straight games, which was the second longest hitting streak in the team’s history.
Defensively, Wendle was just as good. He committed only eight errors all season, and was a factor in 30 double plays. Wendle’s outstanding overall play earned him first team All-PSAC East and second team All-Atlantic Region honors.
The 2011 season brought more proof of Wendle’s dominance. He led the team in hitting for the second straight year, coming in at a .346 clip, and drove in 32 runs in 41 games. Most impressively, Wendle struck out just three times in his 136 at bats. Once again Wendle earned first team All-PSAC East, and also jumped up to first team All-Atlantic Region in adition to winning the WCU scholar-athlete of the year award.
But despite all of the raw talent Wendle has, he does not act like he is above anybody.
“What makes him unique is he combines impressive talent with an intense work ethic and he plays the game the right way,” first-year head coach Jad Prachniak said. “He carries himself well, plays hard consistently regardless of the game situation and is a tremendous teammate. What really stands out is how humble he is, he is one of the best college baseball players in the country and he practices like he still trying to make the team.”
Wendle does not just strike that impression with the coach, however. His teammates certainly notice and appreciate his hard work and dedication as well.
“Joey is the heart of the team, always a class act and leading by example,” catcher Reid Pulford said. “Usually players as talented as him have big egos or aren’t team players, but Wendle is one of the most selfless teammates I’ve had the pleasure of playing with.”
Going into this season as a top ten-ranked DII prospect by Baseball America, Wendle is adding to his impressive resume and securing his place in the WCU record books.
With just one regular season game yet to be played in Wendle’s career, his stat line is nearly complete. He is one pace to jump into the top three or higher all time in some of the most important statistical categories, and will almost certainly be named again to the first team All-PSAC East and first team All- Atlantic Region.
Even though personal records are not as important to Wendle as helping the team win, it is important to look at what he has done as an individual.
His 122 home runs this year bring his career total up to 23, which is tied for the third most in career behind just Mark Gilliford and Matt Cotellese. The twelve home runs is also just one homer shy of Blair Dameron’s school record of 13 in a season.
Let’s not forget how he got to 12 home runs either. Wendle hit three home runs in one game against Bloomsburg last week, tying him for the most home runs in game by a Golden Rams’ player.
After this season, Wendle’s other notable top three finishes will include most triples in a season (7), most triples in a career (18), second highest RBI total in a career (173), second highest single season slugging average (.789), third most hits in a career (249), third most doubles in a career (53), and third most runs scored in a career (194).
Also, he could gain ground in both the single season and career batting average records. Wendle is currently hitting exactly .408, which puts him just outside the top ten highest single season batting averages in a season in West Chester history. However, a 4-for-4 day would jump him to .425 and give him the sixth highest ever. A 2-for-4 day would bring him to tenth place with a .411 average. He currently ranks 10th in career batting average (.355), but could possibly reach as high as sixth or seventh depending on the outcome of this year.
Regardless of where Wendle’s stats stand after the final game, it is obvious what he means to this team.
“Joe has been one of the best teammates I have had,” senior outfielder Jack Provine said. “He is an all around player who makes this team that much better, and his four years speak for themselves. I am very excited to see what the future has in store for him because he will be ready for any of it.”
It is hard to find somebody who can do what Wendle can on a ballfield. But it is even harder to find someone who has the drive, work ethic, and “team first” mentality to channel that talent.
The Rams will have some pretty big shoes to fill.
Kenny Ayres is a second-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at  

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