TALLAHASSEE, Fla – For just every college baseball player in America, playing in Boston’s Fenway Park would be the highlight of a given week, if not an entire season.
For Florida State’s Steven Wells, it was more of a footnote.
Because Wells, a senior outfielder from Key West, last week went on a tear that was as unprecedented in school history as it was unexpected:
During a five-game stretch that started with Tuesday’s home game against Stetson, Wells recorded a school-record 12 straight hits, reached base in 20 consecutive plate appearances and posted a 1.294 slugging percentage.
By the time the Seminoles had polished off a three-game sweep at Boston College to cap a 5-0 week, Wells had hit 14 of 17 at the plate with two home runs, seven RBIs, six walks and just one strikeout.
In the process, he raised his batting average from .195 to .298 – from 14th-highest on the team to second.
“I have to admit,” FSU coach Mike Martin said, “there’s no way I expected him to go from .195 to .298 in a one-week period.
“That just doesn’t happen.”
But it did happen for Wells, who this season has hit more home runs (four) and drawn more walks (35) than he did during his previous three seasons combined.
In fact, before this year, Wells had yet to appear in more than 35 games in a single season. But with the Seminoles relying on a new cast of characters, Wells was called into heavier duty and responded in kind.
Part of his senior-year renaissance came about thanks to extra time spent in the batting cages, where he recently reworked his swing with an emphasis on keeping his bat plane in the strike zone.
“Just trying to stay in the zone a little bit longer,” Wells said, “and not just be in and out and fouling off pitches that I shouldn’t be fouling off.”
Safe to say it worked.
Wells last week had a pair of four-hit games – including one at Fenway, the venerable home of Major League Baseball’s Red Sox – and broke a 20-year-old record for consecutive hits held by former FSU All-American Brian Cox.
Cox, who had 10 straight hits in 1998 and helped lead FSU to the College World Series, reached out to congratulate Wells after the mark fell.
“With the history in this place, to be able to say I have a record like that, it’s definitely a pretty cool thing,” said Wells, who also earned his first ACC Player of the Week honor Monday.
When you post these numbers, you deserve some recognition:
.824 batting average (14-for-17)
7 RBI/11 runs scored
2 2B, 2 HR
Career high 4 hits twice.
Career high 4 runs at Fenway.
— FSU Baseball (@FSUBaseball) April 23, 2018
For the first few hits of his streak, Wells wasn’t aware that he was doing anything special.
But after going for 4 for 4 against Stetson on Wednesday, and pushing the streak to six, his teammates started to take notice.
When Wells went 3 for 3 his next time out, the attention in the dugout was unavoidable.
“They were just kind of joking around, fanning me off. It wasn’t a quiet thing,” Wells said. “I wasn’t worried about the record at all. I was just going out there and having fun with it, and it ended up being 12 straight hits.”
And five straight wins that the Seminoles were awfully glad to have.
FSU (29-12, 11-9 ACC) entered the week on a five-game skid and slipping in the ACC standings. But with Wells’ surge leading the way, they now sit in third place in the Atlantic Division and well within striking distance of first-place NC State (31-8, 15-6) and second-place Clemson (29-11, 14-7).
The Seminoles will play at Stetson Tuesday before returning home for a three-game set against Miami that starts Friday.
“As long as I’ve been in this game at Florida State, I’ve never had a player to just literally come out of nowhere, doing things that he hadn’t done in the past,” Martin said. “He was really the epitome of a team player, and to see him have this kind of success, I must admit, is extremely beneficial to the success of our team.”