Jacob Seward doesn’t like talking about himself.
Southeastern Louisiana’s sophomore center fielder will gladly talk about how well the Lions are playing. He is completely at ease discussing how the program is one win away from its first Southland Conference regular-season title.
What he won’t mention is that individually, his 74 hits put him in the top 25 in the nation, while his .370 batting average is second in the conference. His 17 stolen bases and 35 RBIs also have him among the Southland’s top 10.
He isn’t aware of most of those numbers.
Discussing personal accomplishments makes him visibly uncomfortable because, as far as he’s concerned, his job as a leadoff man isn’t to post flashy numbers, it’s to set up his teammates behind him.
The thing is, he’s pretty good at that, too.
His .460 on-base percentage — one of the few stats he mustered a glimmer of self-approval about — leads the Southland, as do his 46 runs scored.
Seward also displayed the slightest bit of excitement about his streak of reaching base safely in 39 straight games — a streak that ended last weekend against Central Arkansas, in a game in which he still recorded an RBI on a sacrifice fly.
Southeastern coach Matt Riser said he was impressed by the fact Seward recorded a hit in 40 of his 50 games this season and reached base in another 44.
“It feels good that I’m contributing to the team in that many different ways, but I’m just glad we’re winning as much as we’re winning,” Seward said with a shrug. “I’m just glad I’m finding a way on base because I know the guys behind me are going to hit me in.
“If I’m getting 74 hits and not scoring 74 runs, it doesn’t really matter.”
Arguably the most surprising part of Seward’s rise to success within the program, is that he wasn’t supposed to be a factor in the lineup this early.
Riser knew the New Orleans native and Brother Martin graduate had quick feet and a solid glove, and the original plan was to keep him as a defensive backup in the outfield.
That strategy lasted about two weeks into the 2014 season.
“We just kind of played the defensive matchup last year and his offense started to blossom,” Riser said. “I didn’t foresee him doing what he’s doing this year. ... He’s a pest at the top of that lineup.”
Like so many other players who find early success in their careers, Seward hit a slump during fall practice. It reached the point where Riser toyed with the idea of removing him from the lineup.
To this day, Seward doesn’t know what happened last fall and at the beginning of this season. He tried adjusting his hands or the way he approached an at bat, but couldn’t seem to dig himself out of the hole.
Finally, in March, Seward found his rhythm again after a Friday night game at Nicholls State in which he went 4-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored.
That was Game 5 of what would become the second longest hitting streak in the country this season, one that finally finishing at 24 consecutive games in a 5-2 win against Lamar at the beginning of May — another game in which he produced in RBI.
“His best asset is that he goes all out in everything he does,” Riser said. “He knows he’s not the biggest, the fastest or the strongest, but he outperforms, not only from a physical standpoint, but from a mental standpoint, as well.”