Calvin Hewett has played at Vanderbilt for four years. Now, he tries to lead them to the College World Series once again. (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)
Calvin Hewett has played at Vanderbilt for four years. Now, he tries to lead them to the College World Series once again. (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)
Lexie Perez

Calvin Hewett: The antidote to the portal

A four-year, one-school player is becoming increasingly rare in today’s NCAA landscape. For Calvin Hewett, it’s been the difference-maker in his college experience.

Like several other VandyBoys, Calvin Hewett’s journey started in the Northeast. Admittedly, New Hampshire isn’t the easiest place to play baseball with its unforgiving winters and chilly springs, but a support network of friends and family allowed Hewett to pursue his passion. 

“[My parents] put so much time into me — money too — especially in those high school, middle school years. When you’re playing travel ball, you’ve got to go stay in hotels or fly down to Florida, because, you know, you can’t play in January in New Hampshire because there’s snow on the ground,” Hewett said. “There’s so many people [who helped me], but definitely my parents — just a big sacrifice.”

As a kid, Vanderbilt’s unique jerseys and its 2014 NCAA Championship caught Hewett’s eye, and after some impressive showings at prospect camps, Hewett caught Vanderbilt’s eye. Head coach Tim Corbin is infamous for loving gritty, multi-sport, northeastern products, and the 6’3” Hewett matched that description perfectly. 

Not only was Hewett a multi-sport athlete, he was a multi-sport winner. Hewett led Portsmouth High School to two baseball state titles — out of three chances nonetheless due to COVID-19, and he helped his basketball team win three state championships as well. With a ring for every finger, Hewett made the journey to Nashville in search of more.

The new Commodore began his career fielding, doing whatever was asked of him as a rookie on the team. He ended the season with a small sample size of play, but an impressive one nonetheless: 15 game appearances, a slash line of .571/.700/.857 on 7 at-bats, a perfect fielding record, a pair of doubles and 3 RBIs.

“My freshman year, I was definitely nervous because I really had no idea that I was going to play at all, to be honest. I had no expectations,” Hewett said. “I guess it was just about staying ready and doing the best I can to prepare as a non-starter. And it paid off. I didn’t get too many at bats, but when I did, I was ready.”

The 2021 Vanderbilt squad was special, so earning any playing time as a freshman was an admirable accomplishment. Unfortunately, when the VandyBoys went to Omaha for the College World Series, push came to shove. There were a limited number of spots available on the active roster, hard decisions were made and Hewett had to watch from behind a screen as his team went for ultimate glory. 

For many players, this would have been cause for dismay, frustration or even a portal entrance. Not for Hewett. Not only did the young outfielder take the time to hone his craft, he made sure to support the team however possible. Once given the chance, he made the trip to Omaha himself to be there in person.

“Once [the team] made it to the finals, I actually called coach Corbin. I was like, ‘Hey, Coach, you know, it’d be really nice if I can come down and watch the boys and support them.’ And so, he let me do that. So, I flew down for the finals,” Hewett said. “That was a great experience because I got to see the atmosphere. So, that gave me a little wake up call as to what I was getting myself into.” 

The opportunity served as motivation for what could be. The CWS is an addiction and Hewett made it his mission to get the squad back to that promised land. 

First, though, he needed to improve his own game. How would he accomplish this? By becoming a jack-of-all-trades. He was already a great fielder, so his offense — especially his baserunning abilities — was his main focus.

“I had a lot of conversations with Coach Baxter, and we figured that my best offensive skill is just to get on first base and cause havoc for the defense — whether it’s stealing a base, whether it’s taking an extra base when someone gets a hit, things like that,” Hewett said. “I like to define it as trying to cause havoc for the opposing defense as well as the pitcher. Because once I get on first base, no one really wants to deal with me out there.”

Hewett had no stolen bases his freshman year, but he added 5 his sophomore year, then he tacked on 11 his junior year and he’s already tallied 18 during his senior season. Yet, for as much as he’s stolen, Hewett has only been caught three times. This 91.9% conversion rate is astounding, given Vanderbilt’s average since the 2014 championship season is 78.8% (842-for-1069). This feat is further reinforced by the MLB’s definition of a good conversion ratio: the league states that a good base runner successfully steals at around or above 75%. Clearly, Hewett’s work on the base path paid off.

This isn’t the only part of the outfielder’s game that was improved. For instance, his strikeout rate has decreased each season in which he’s had significant at-bats. It stood at 25.9% his sophomore year, 24.3% during his junior campaign and, currently, 19.5% for his final year. Indeed, Hewett’s efforts out-of-season have helped him see more of the field in-season.

As a senior, however, the product on the diamond arguably takes a backseat to the value he adds through his role as a leader on the team. 

“I’m just trying to set an example for [the younger guys]. We have Jack [Bulger] and Alan [Espinal] — they’re great guys. The three of us, we’ve been together, obviously, for four years now. And having Troy [LaNeve] and Sam [Hliboki] back for their fifth year has been really helpful,” Hewett said. “It’s just about making sure that [the freshmen] understand what the standard is for Vanderbilt Baseball, so they can pass that on to the freshmen next year when we’re gone.”

Humble and quick to recognize his other experienced teammates, Hewett has nearly four years under his belt at Vanderbilt. This type of veteran presence is paramount come postseason play — look no further than when the New Hampshire native showed off his clutch gene in last year’s SEC Championship game. With his only at-bat, in the eighth inning and the bases loaded, Hewett delivered three RBIs on a bases-clearing double. The Commodores would go on to take the SEC crown.

Hewett’s time on West End can be defined through individual statistics and team accomplishments, but ultimately, it seems more apt to illustrate his impact on the program through the relationships he’s made. Being at a school for four years is becoming increasingly rare, but it’s made all the difference for Hewett.

“My time here has been absolutely fantastic. The relationships I’ve made,” Hewett said. “I would never be able to get those anywhere else.”

The right coach and the right teammates produced the perfect storm for the senior. His loyalty to his friends is exemplary and his commitment to the VandyBoys is exceptional. Though his future is yet to be determined, he’ll leave Vanderbilt with a strong culture and satisfaction that he did things the right way.

“Coach Corbin has established such a great culture here. There’s no egos, I mean, [players] may come in on day one with egos, but when you walk out on the last day, everyone’s on the same level. And everyone loves each other.” Hewett said. “I couldn’t be happier with my time here.”

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About the Contributors
Sam Curtis
Sam Curtis, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Sam Curtis (’24) is from Wallingford, Conn., majoring in human and organizational development and French and minoring in data science in Peabody College. He was previously Assistant Sports Editor and Sports Copy Editor. When not writing for The Hustler, he cheers on the Philadelphia Eagles, the 76ers and Leeds United. Outside of sports, he enjoys traveling and learning about history and philosophy. He can be reached at [email protected].    
Lexie Perez
Lexie Perez, Graphics Editor
Lexie Perez (‘26) is from Northern Virginia and is majoring in climate studies and human and organizational development and minoring in business in the College of Arts and Science. She enjoys listening to 70s and 80s pop music, doing the daily Wordle and rooting for the Nashville Predators and Cincinnati Bengals. She can be reached at [email protected].
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