Wave may look to Davis’ arm more this spring

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; Here it is the start of Cathedral slugger Jeremy Davis’ senior season, and it’s not his bat that coaches are all that concerned about.

It’s his arm.

After losing its top three pitchers from a season ago, the Green Wave is looking high and low for candidates to take the mound in key division contests this season and give the team some productive innings. That’s where Davis &045; who was the team’s No. 2 starter as a freshman but threw sparingly the last two seasons &045; comes in.

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Davis and the Green Wave host Monterey tonight as baseball action officially begins this week in the Miss-Lou.

&uot;I wasn’t expecting that (as a freshman), actually,&uot; Davis said. &uot;They put me out there. It was a good experience, and I enjoyed it. I pitched probably &045; it wasn’t many (innings last year). To be honest with you, pitching is not my thing. I’m more the hitter than the pitcher. But if we’re going to do it this year, then I’m going to have to do it.&uot;

Not only will the Southern Miss signee be part of a staff that’s searching for someone to step up and take a lead role, but he may be that person. The team enters a rebuilding year of sorts after the entire infield graduated following a Class 1A state championship last spring.

Te Riley and Garrett Jones graduated, Corey Walker transferred to Adams Christian and Davis may be the one of the more experienced pitchers on the team &045; even if he threw only 10 innings all last season.

Davis got two innings in Saturday against Wilkinson County and got five of his six outs on strikeouts.

&uot;He was going mainly with his fastball Saturday,&uot; CHS head coach Craig Beesley said. &uot;Hopefully by this weekend he’ll be able to start working on his breaking ball. He’s about three weeks behind from the missed practices from (playing) basketball. He threw a lot better than what I thought he would be. That’s a good sign. It’s just going to take time to get his arm in pitching shape.&uot;

Davis will be one of five seniors on the roster this spring and by far the most experienced player on a team that’s lacking in that department this season. He was the No. 2 starter for the Green Wave as a freshman in 2002 behind left-hander Chris Norris, but his services were not needed as much as a sophomore and junior.

Davis spent most of those two seasons in center field with the occasional switch to shortstop. But like Jones did last year, Davis will have to step up and pitch to help the team.

His last appearance was a forgettable one &045; three batters faced, two singles and walk in a playoff loss against Union.

&uot;I didn’t have to throw much last year,&uot; Davis said. &uot;It was nice. This year we don’t have that luxury. We’ve got a bunch of that will have to give us some innings. We’ll look to them to give us some strikes. Last year our whole lineup was solid. his year offense is what we’ll have to get going. Hopefully our pitchers will throw strikes.&uot;

Right now Davis may be one of seven pitchers the Green Wave could call on to throw &045; Zach Calhoun and Charlie Lane were impressive over the weekend at the Natchez High Classic &045; and could be in the running for one of the top spots in the rotation.

Beesley hopes to narrow it down to the top three to go in divisional games.

&uot;This year if we want to make another run at a state championship, he’s going to have to pitch for us,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;There’s no doubt he’s one of the best center fielders to come through this area in quite some time, but he may be more valuable to us as a pitcher than a center fielder. As soon as he gets his arm in shape, I’d have to say he’s our No. 1.

&uot;But there are several I’m looking at. Zach made several good pitches Friday, but he has to work on his control. Charlie Lane is the same way, and Preston Hicks has to get in a little better shape.&uot;

But it’s his abilities at the plate and in center field that earned Davis a ticket to Southern Miss as he signed in November with Corky Palmer’s team. Davis set a school record last season with 12 homers playing in a very spacious Chester Willis Field.

Instead of being sandwiched in a lineup of heavy hitters like last year, Davis may be expected to be the team’s big bat this spring.

&uot;I’ve had people ask me, ‘When are you going to hit me a home run?’&uot; Davis said. &uot;It’s amazing. We lost our entire infield from last year. Once we get settled in and find an identity for our team, we’ll be all right. Hopefully we’ll hit it going into the playoffs. I’m not a big talker. I’ll play the game the way it’s supposed to be played, and hopefully they’ll follow.&uot;

Davis may find it tougher at the plate this spring as the big hitter in the lineup. But he’s always been a patient hitter, even back as a freshman when he hit leadoff. Last season Davis struck out just 13 times in 89 at-bats &045; five swinging and eight looking &045; while hitting .416.

&uot;I’d like to see him get back to double digits in home runs this year,&uot; Beesley said. &uot;He’s going to have to be disciplined at the plate because of how people will pitch him. Everybody in district knows him. He’s not going to be able to let a pitch go by because he’s not going to get too many pitches to hit.&uot;