TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – They say when opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. Florida State’s Steven Wells has not only assembled the door, but he has kicked it through during the last few weeks of the season. In a crowded outfield, Wells was relegated to sparse pinch-hitting duties for much of the year, waiting his turn and supporting his teammates throughout a season filled with frustrations.
The bad luck peaked for the Seminoles when starting right fielder Rhett Aplin broke his foot in a series against Pacific in early May. At the time, Aplin led FSU with a .322 batting average while adding six home runs.
The Noles then turned to weekend rotation ace, Tyler Holton, who had experience playing the outfield prior in his career. In games Holton was starting on the mound, Wells received his opportunities in the lineup and in the field.
“With Rhett and couple others going down, I just tried to make every opportunity count,”
Wells said. “I know what I can do, I never doubted myself and I’m just trying to help my team any way I can.”
During the last week of May, with the Noles hoping to secure their place in the NCAA Tournament , Wells and his teammates put on a show in Louisville. First FSU won a series against the Cardinals on the road and followed that up with an ACC Tournament run, ending in a conference title.
In the first game of the ACC Tournament, with FSU battling Notre Dame in extra innings, Wells made one of the best plays of his career. Tied at 3-3 in the 11thinning and with a runner at third, Wells caught a routine fly ball in right field before firing a bullet home, hosing a Fighting Irish baserunner at the plate and keeping the score level. The Seminoles would eventually win on a walk-off home run from Jackson Lueck in the 12th.
“Oh my gosh, he could have hung out a month’s wash on that clothes line,” FSU coach Mike Martin said with a laugh. “I’m very confident putting ‘Wellsy’ in the outfield and he’s taken advantage of it.”
During the Tallahassee Regional, the native of Key West, Fla. was 5 for 9 in his opportunities at the plate. Against Auburn on Monday night, with a trip to the Super Regionals on the line, Wells stuck an exclamation point on a dominant effort by the Seminoles, blasting his first home run of the season off the scoreboard in left field to give FSU a 6-0 lead.
“It felt really good,” Wells said of his home run. “I was just trying to put a good swing on it, he hung a slider and it just got out of here.”
Florida State will host Sam Houston State at Dick Howser Stadium this weekend, a trip to Omaha in the balance. Wells’ recent hot streak at the plate could be a deciding factor, providing a spark at the bottom of FSU’s lineup.
“The sky is the limit for this team, there isn’t a break in the lineup one through nine,” Wells said.
“We know what we are capable of doing and we have some good momentum heading into Supers now.”