May 21, 2010


Wittels continues to hit for FIU

By Brian Buckey

Special to


The best thing about a freshman is he becomes a sophomore.


Those are the words of his coach and they couldn't ring any truer for Florida International University sophomore infielder Garrett Wittels.


Wittels has a hit in every game he has started during his sophomore season and owns the nation's longest hitting streak at an astounding 47 games.  The streak is tied for second in NCAA Division I history with a 47-game streak by Phil Stephenson of Wichita State in 1981. The top mark is a 58-game streak by Robin Ventura of Oklahoma State in 1987.


"It feels great," WIttels said of the hit streak. "Especially being up there with someone like Robin Ventura. He played in the big leagues for a while. He was a superstar in college as well as in the major leagues. It definitely means a lot and I'm humbled by it."


Wittels, who grew up in Bay Harbor Island, Florida, chose FIU over interest from NC State, Miami (Fla.) and Louisville.


During his freshman season, Wittels struggled to adjust to college pitching. He played in 46 games, starting only 30. He hit .246 with one home run and 16 RBI.


FIU head coach Turtle Thomas said Wittels, like other college freshmen, had to adjust to everything from new surroundings to new classes to new teammates and coaches.


"By the time they get to about the end of their freshman year, they become sophomores," Thomas said. "He finished hot. He hit in seven games in a row at the end and then had an 0 for 1 in the conference tournament as a pinch-hitter."


Wittels used the momentum he gained from the end of his freshman year and was off and running to start his sophomore year. And he hasn't stopped hitting since.


"He's a guy that definitely uses the whole field from foul line to foul line, which is good," Thomas said. "He's gotten about equal number of hits to right as center as left."


Wittels' .410 batting average leads the team and his 50 RBI are tied for first on the team. Wittels says this year he is more mentally prepared when he comes to the plate.


"I think the mental side of my game has improved the most," Wittels said. "I have an approach for each at-bat and I'm not really swinging at pitchers' pitches and I'm not being afraid to have one or two strikes on me. It's really just looking for a certain pitch and going up there with a plan."


Thomas says he never speaks to Wittels about the hitting streak, but he knows what it means to Wittels and to the FIU program.


"It's a hallowed record that's been around for a long time," Thomas said. "He's starting to get within shouting distance of it. He still has quite a ways to go, but every game brings a little bit more notoriety to himself and to our program. We're hoping this thing just continues for whatever it takes to get it done. It means a lot to our players because they're invested in this thing as much as he is."


(photos courtesy of FIU Media Relations Office)