BELOIT - Brenden Wells has turned a lot of heads on the baseball diamond in his first three years playing for the West Branch Warriors. Following his senior season in the spring, he'll look to turn even more playing for the Marshall University Thundering Herd.
Wells signed his national letter of intent to continue his academic and athletic career in Huntington, W. Va. last week.
"Marshall University is a great college," Wells said. "The atmosphere is great, and the campus is amazing. They have good students and a really great program, and they play in one of the best baseball conferences in the country."
Wells hopes to contribute quickly once he arrives at Marshall, and West Branch baseball coach Walt DeShields said the Thundering Herd will be impressed with his drive and desire to play the game immediately.
"Brenden has a tremendous work ethic," DeShields said. "He works extremely hard and puts 110 percent into everything he does. He's always in the batting cage, always lifting, always working out. You don't ever have to tell the kid to do it. He's very self-motivated."
Wells is close to a career .500 hitter through three seasons in Beloit. He batted .468 as a freshman, .563 as a sophomore and .500 last season as a junior. He is second to only West Branch graduate and Kent State outfielder Evan Campbell for career best batting average at the school, and he still has one more season to try to break that mark.
DeShields said two main areas of Wells' play are what made him so attractive to prospective college programs - speed, and ability to hit for average.
"He's a really good runner and extremely fast," DeShields said. "He's got a really good 60-yard dash time. He's at least running a 6.7. That's professional type speed. The thing about him is he gets going faster as he moves. He's led us in triples every season and holds the school record."
Wells has given opposing pitchers fits. If he makes contact, he almost always hits hard, and he has excelled at finding holes in the outfield.
"He covers the plate really well inside and out and has that power to the gaps," DeSheilds said.
Wells said signing early will allow him to simply focus on having the best senior season possible.
"It takes a lot of pressure off," he said. "I wanted to sign before the season started so I won't have to worry about how good I'm doing. Since I'm locked in, I can just play free and do whatever I can to help the team out."
Marshall head coach Jeff Waggoner is very familiar with the strength of the Warriors' program. Waggoner is 1993 West Branch alum and his recruiting eyes never stray too far from Beloit. In 2009 he tapped Warriors' pitcher Kolin Stanley to join the squad as well.
"Brenden is an athletic kid that is a very good all-around player," Waggoner said to goherd.com.
"He has all the tools to be a very good player and is one of the hardest workers out there. He's a tough kid and we look for him to come in right away and help us out."
Wells, also a Second Team All-Ohio running back, has bounced back-and-forth between wanting to play baseball or football in college. But once the Warriors' 2012 NBC co-championship season ended on the gridiron, his mind quickly focused to baseball, and it was then he decided to stick to the diamond.
Like Waggoner said, Wells feels he'll be able to contribute immediately.
"This past year Marshall had a bit of a rebuilding season," Wells said. "They were pretty young. This year they should be pretty good. They've got Kolin down there pitching and he had a good summer, so he should be contributing and the team will be leaning towards him a lot more. I think when I get there I can help them in the outfield. I'm gonna do whatever I can to help the team get the 'W' as often as possible."
Marshall was 17-37 last year overall and 5-19 in the very competitive Conference USA.
DeSheilds said Wells will have a great opportunity to be in the spotlight in such a high-profile baseball conference.
"Conference USA is a great opportunity for him," DeSheilds said. "Waggoner was a West Branch graduate I was fortunate enough to coach. Jeff worked extremely hard for what he got, and I think that's why he likes Brenden. He saw that same thing in him."