Davis powers Cathedral into finals

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; The consummate ball player, Cathedral center fielder Jeremy Davis never glanced up to see where the non-stop 747 he tagged in Greenville was preparing to lane in Monday’s 10-4 South State title clincher.

He delivered that smooth stroke, knew he had caught it on the fat part of the aluminum, heard the &uot;ooohs and aaahs&uot; and began his trot around the bases.

That &uot;all business&uot; attitude will be key as the Green Wave enter their first Mississippi high School Activities Association Class 1A state championship series against Houlka since 1997 Saturday.

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Nothing changes with Davis; he remains even-keeled, never getting too high after a big play or too low after a mistake, which is rare.

&uot;He’s not a kid that will intimidate you with his size,&uot; Cathedral head coach Craig Beesley said of Davis. &uot;Some people think he can’t hit as good as they’ve heard, so they’ll test him. If they throw it in the wrong spot, they won’t test him again.&uot;

Opposing pitchers have thrown in wrong spots numerous times this year against Davis, to the tune of 12 home runs (five have come in the postseason, including the bomb on Monday) and a .425 batting clip.

The 12 blasts are a single-season school record, eclipsing Lance Beesley’s 10 he set in 1995. Ironically, that was the year the Wave knocked off South Union for the state championship.

Davis has 19 in his three-year career after hitting five and two in his freshman and sophomore seasons, respectively.

What makes Davis so potent is his vision. He not only has a firm grasp of the strike zone but also is committed to where he wants the pitch.

&uot;If I’m coming up to the plate, I’m not going to take the chance on anything I don’t like,&uot; said Davis, who prefers something between his knees and waistline, out over the plate. &uot;I’m going to make him throw me my pitch, something I can get my hands extended on and make good contact. If I get behind, then I’m going to have to go after his pitch. You can’t be looking for your pitch then.&uot;

Davis is complimented with a lineup of heavy hitters that have generally raked from the second half of the season on. The meat of the order &045; shortstop Garrett Jones, Davis, pitcher/first baseman/cleanup hitter Te Riley and third baseman Wyler Murray &045; are hovering around a .420 to .425 average, Beesley said.

Roll the dice around Davis, who like Barry Bonds receives his share of unintentional intentional walks, and you have to mess with Riley or Murray, who both hit for power.

&uot;Against Union, Union tried to pitch around (Davis) in one game,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;They did, and Te came up and got a hit right behind him. It’s kind of like, ‘What poison do you want?’&uot;

Houlka head coach Jimbo Byers must make that decision in Saturday’s opener at Chester Willis at 1 p.m.

Davis, who Beesley thinks could be more aggressive earlier in the count, knows the Wildcats have steady pitching, but believes that won’t be the obstacle Cathedral must overcome.

&uot;Like coach says, we need to play as if we’re playing against ourselves,&uot; Davis said. &uot;If we play like we’re capable of, we’ll be fine.&uot;

Not the burliest guy you’ll come across, the Cathedral junior says there’s no trick to depositing pitches beyond fences.

&uot;It’s all timing. Hips, legs, arms, wrists timed together with that one moment,&uot; said Davis, who hit his first home run at 7. &uot;It doesn’t have to be fancy. If you time it right, it’ll get the job done.&uot;

Such was the case Monday, as Davis parked his two-run smash an estimated 450 feet, Beesley said.

In a later at-bat, Davis screamed a pitch to dead center, some plus-400 feet. So far so, that radio commentator Porky Smith remarked, &uot;Folks, I can’t see that far.&uot;

That rope resulted in a two-run triple and the icing on the cake.

&uot;The home run had to be the longest ball I’ve ever seen him hit,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;It’s such a smooth swing. I’ve seen people with more power, but they have a lot of strikeouts with it. (Davis) doesn’t get fooled with his.&uot;