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Senior helps Pine-Richland prepare for baseball season

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

He is the last tie to the Pine-Richland Rams 2010 WPIAL title team. Shane Heim was a freshman on that squad, and he hopes to take what he learned from that experience and a from stellar sophomore campaign to help the Rams return to prominence this season.

“I consider myself a leader, and although I am not vocal, I let my actions set the example,” Heim said. “I just do what I can to help the team.”

Heim said coaching is a huge part of the team success, and he has great admiration for coach Kurt Wolfe, who took a chance on him as a freshman.

“Coach Wolfe is an inspiring guy,” Heim said. “He gets us to play together, bond together and we make up the best unit.”

Wolfe said Heim has a trait he calls the five tools, a set of skills that sets players apart.

“Shane has great hands at the plate, above-average speed and a good bat,” Wolfe said. “We used him a lot on the base pads as a freshman. He got a lot of experience, and that helped shape him as a player.”

Wolfe added that there is nothing Heim does not do as a player.

“He is very athletic and does it all well,” Wolfe said. “He has a special understanding of the game, which allows him to excel and play at a high level.

“Baseball has a lot of intricacies and subplots, and his knowledge helps his talent.”

Heim had a remarkable sophomore season to follow the WPIAL championship run. He hit better than .400 and earned a starting position in the outfield. For his effort, he was named to the all-section team at the end of the season.

He is proud of what he accomplished but said that since Wolfe placed that WPIAL gold medal around his neck, only one thing has been on his mind.

“That was a huge goal, and I want to have that feeling again,” Heim said.

To do everything he can to make that happen, Heim works hard on his hitting. He takes extra batting practice with teammates, and Joel Dombkowski is someone who will throw batting practice to him, too.

“Last year was not my best year,” Heim said. “I am a competitive guy, and it hurt when we didn't make the playoffs.”

Heim also works out often with Bill Nichol at Outer-Limits Sports to polish his game.

“Hitting is important, and I do all I can to get better at it,” he said.

The coaches at California (Pa.) liked what they saw; Heim will be playing there next spring.

“I really liked the campus,” Heim said. “It's close enough to home my parents can come see me play, or I can go home if I need to.”

Heim said he plans to study sports management.

He is excited for college, but Heim said it will be tough to leave his coach and teammates, whom he considers brothers.

“Coach Wolfe has done so many great things … he believed in me as a freshman,” Heim said. “He has been there for me, and I have been there for him. I just want to work hard for him.”

Heim feels honored to be part of the Pine-Richland tradition.

“Our motto this season is ‘band of brothers,'” he said. “I love to be around them even when we are not doing baseball stuff.

“I will miss all the players, because we have become so close.”

With only six games under its belt this season, Heim said it is great to see the chemistry the team has developed on the field.

The ultimate goal is a championship, so to get there, Heim said he is going to take things as they come and not worry about little things.

“I am just going to try to hit well. I am not worried about my average this season,” he said. “I am going to try to go out and do my best and do whatever I can to help the team out.”

Wolfe said Heim is a big reason the Rams got off to a fast start this season.

“His leadership is huge … he is not vocal, but he uses his experience to lead by example,” Wolfe said. “He helps keep the team focused, and they follow and try to repeat what he does.”

Jerry Clark is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or jeclark@tribweb.com.

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