by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
While his friends in Lancaster High School’s Class of 2019 are probably still celebrating last weekend’s graduation, Matthew Kleinfelter is settling into his new baseball training routine at Division 1 James Madison University.
Kleinfelter, 18, left for Harrisonburg’s JMU bright and early Sunday, June 16. He graduated Saturday from LHS and last Friday played in the Class 1 state championship game.
On Monday, June 24, he’ll represent LHS and Region 1A in the Virginia High School Coaches Association (VHSCA) East-West All-Star game, playing for the East team. Ironically, that game’s going to be held on Kleinfelter’s new home field, JMU’s Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.
Kleinfelter is the Northern Neck District and Region 1A Most Valuable Player and fills two spots as a pitcher and third baseman on each of the all-district and all-region first teams. He and four JMU incoming teammates will play in the all-star game.
He is taking a summer school class at JMU as mandated by the university for all freshman athletes. His new schedule is grueling with a 6-9 a.m. workout, 11 a.m. class, a 2-4 p.m. study hall and a second workout from 5-9 p.m. He’ll play a fall ball season, then an inter-squad season before spring baseball begins.
“I’m gonna be busy,” said Kleinfelter, who has literally been preparing for a career in baseball since he was in Little League. He received a lot of college-scout exposure with his travel ball team, the Richmond Braves, traveling multiple times to Florida and Georgia.
Kleinfelter was a sophomore when he became the youngest athlete in LHS school history to verbally commit to a Division 1 school. He was JMU’s first recruit for the 2019 graduating class.
He helped lead Lancaster to its best record in school history, 21-4, and back to the state championship game for the first time since the spring of 2015.
Kleinfelter batted .389 this season with six doubles, two home runs, 17 runs scored and 20 RBIs. The right-hander set a new single-season strikeout record with 109. He went 11-1 this season with 69 innings pitched for a .404 ERA. He allowed only 42 hits, less than one per inning, and only four earned runs.
Junior Nick Wohleking also garnered all-district and all-region honors as a first-team pitcher on both squads.
Wohleking led the team at bat with a .397 average. He hit five doubles, four homers and drew 11 walks for 37 RBIs and 5 runs scored.
He had an 8-2 record, pitching 56.2 innings for a 1.6 ERA. He allowed 37 hits, fanned 88 batters and gave up only 13 earned runs.
Wohleking is already being heavily recruited by college scouts, according to coach Welby Saunders.
Senior shortstop Spencer Crittenden was named to the all-district first team as a designated hitter and received all-region honorable mention.
Crittenden batted .391 with four doubles, one triple, 14 RBIs and 26 runs with 15 stolen bases.
Senior Hunter Koonce earned second-team all-district honors as an outfielder with a .300 batting average. He hit two doubles, one home run, had 12 stolen bases, 14 RBIs and 18 runs scored.