Stevie Wells is a power hitter but he wasn’t looking to crush the ball as he came up for the Hun School baseball team against Hill last Wednesday in the bottom of the third inning with two runners in scoring position.
“My mentality there is to do my job and move the runner,” said Hun senior first baseman Wells, referring to the situation which came with the Raiders trailing 2-1.
“There was second and third and I was thinking I have got to get the ball to the right side and make sure I get that ball through the infield.”
Wells did his job, muscling a flare into the outfield for a two-run single to put Hun ahead 3-2, a lead the Raiders didn’t relinquish as they went on to a 6-3 victory.
For Wells, his clutch hit was the product of an effort to hit to all fields. “The coaches have been trying to get me to hit the ball to center, left, and right and make sure that I am more versatile as a hitter so this way they can’t get me out,” said Wells.
Hun was certainly trying hard in its matchup with Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) rival Hill.
“They are a good team; unfortunately last year we didn’t do that well against them in the playoff game in our park,” said Wells.
“This year we came out with a lot more power and a lot more fire. I think we really put ourselves out there and did a good job today.”
With the Raiders off to a 6-1 start after beating Rutgers Prep 13-4 Monday, Wells senses a special spirit around this year’s team as it looks to rebound from a 9-14 season in 2012.
“We are more together as a family,” asserted Wells, who had two RBIs in the win over Rutgers Prep. “This year, I think we are really together. We work on and off the field to make sure that we are doing what we need to do.”
As a starter since his sophomore season, Wells knows that he has to take a major role in holding things together for the Raiders.
“It is my third year with program; I try to make sure that I am positive,” said Wells.
“At first base, I make sure that everyone knows the situations and I encourage people.”
Hun head coach Bill McQuade wasn’t surprised that Wells came through in the pressure situation against Hill.
“Steve Wells got a huge hit because he battled,” said McQuade. “Everybody knows that Stevie has power, what they don’t realize is that he has a really good understanding of the strike zone. So therefore, he fights off the hard pitches and doesn’t try to overpower it. He took a high pitch, which is hard to get your bat on, and he had enough strength to get it over the infield.”
Wells’ strength of character also powers Hun. “He is the nicest man in the world,” asserted McQuade. “He is the captain of the team for a reason, everyone respects him.”
McQuade respected the way the Raiders overcame a 2-0 deficit in topping Hill.
“We showed some character,” said McQuade. “We played a great game against Hunterdon Central the other day, they are an outstanding team. We started out a little lethargic today; they got two runs as a result of a couple of errors. We got some runs; some of our guys are scuffling a little bit at the plate and they battled.”
Hun ace Austin Goeke showed a battling spirit as he pitched in and out of jams in the win over Hill.
“He didn’t have his greatest stuff but when he had to make the big pitch, he did,” said McQuade of the Wagner College-bound Goeke who pitched a complete game in improving to 2-0 on the season.
“I think his command was good. As the weather warms up he is getting looser and throwing more breaking stuff.”
McQuade is hoping that the Hun bats warm up with the weather. “We are still trying to find the right lineup, the correct batting positions,” said McQuade.
“We are solid in the first six or seven and in a couple positions in the field. We are going to go as far as Goeke and [Jason] Applegate and a couple of others take us. Our hitting is coming around. Brett Ender had a good game the other day. Shane Adams is a player, he and Devo [senior star Devan Birch] are tablesetters. Bailey Hammer has gotten off to a terrific start. He has gotten bigger, he is lifting weights. He is a star.”
In McQuade’s view, his players have developed a terrific chemistry this spring.
“It is more a family feeling this year, without a doubt,” said McQuade, whose team hosts Princeton Day School on April 17 and Pennington on April 18 and then plays a doubleheader at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on April 20.
“Down in Florida, the key for us is that everyone gets to know each other because we have so many new faces. We have Mike Edenson, who is an outstanding catcher and hitter. He got a concussion yet he still comes to the games and supports the team. He is a class act. We are still carrying 22 people; we could have a bunch of kids ticked off because they are not playing but we haven’t seen that yet. That is a credit to this team.”
Wells, for his part, believes the Raiders are poised for an outstanding season.
“I think we let a lot of people know we are here to play and we are ready,” said Wells, who will be continuing his baseball career on the college level at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
“We are ready to go. I hope that we win our league, I hope we make a good run in the states and also in the Mercer County Tournament.”