PARKERSBURG - Baseball has always been Mitch Davis' first love, so it was no real surprise that the Parkersburg Catholic senior outfielder/pitcher chose to follow his heart when deciding to play the sport in college at WVU Tech, an NAIA school in Montgomery.
A viable threat on the diamond with his arm, glove, bat and feet, Davis on his visit to Tech "really liked the coaches," starting with veteran head coach Lawrence Nesselrodt. "He's a good guy and seems to be very fair. That was the deciding point - how nice they were to me and how much they said they wanted me."
Other schools showing interest in Davis were W.Va. State and W.Va. Wesleyan for baseball, and Thiel (Pa.) for football.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Parkersburg Catholic pitcher Mitch Davis (left) and his catcher Jake Boice have a discussion on the mound during a game this season. Davis is headed to WVU Tech in Montgomery to play baseball for the Golden Bears.
But WVU Tech got in the mix when Davis' brother played in high school with one of Golden Bear baseball coaches. "He came up and watched me play, and they were really interested in me," said the 5-8, 150-pound Davis.
"It came down to between baseball (at Tech) and football at Thiel, and I decided to take baseball, which has always been my one true love."
Davis also played football - wide receiver and defensive back - for the Crusaders. "I had a good year in football too, but not the type of year I had in baseball," he said. "I really put a lot of work in during the off-season, so it definitely paid off."
Davis is almost certain to be a lock as a two-time first-team Class A all-stater this year - hitting .495 for the season with an on-base percentage of .587, a total of 55 hits, 32 RBIs and an earned-run average of 4.22. He socked six homers, smacked 15 doubles, stole 22 bases in 24 attempts, scored 61 runs and although only 2-6 as a pitcher, Davis almost always took the mound against PC's toughest opposition, yet still recorded 60 strikeouts in 56.1 innings pitched this season.
Thinking back, Davis said, "Early on, my dad put a glove on my hand, and I always threw with my older brother. Give them both credit; they definitely pushed baseball on me heavily. My brother was my role model, so I wanted to be like him. And although he won't admit it, I'm probably better than him now."
On Tech's plans for him: "I'll be playing center field when I go down there," said Davis. "And I'll probably be a middle reliever too."
Plus, with both the Golden Bears' left fielder and center fielder graduating, "hopefully if I go down there and work hard, I'll get a shot at starting as a freshman," said Davis. "That was definitely another deciding point, since I really wanted to play immediately."
On his time at Catholic: "I've had great teammates here at Catholic," said Davis, "and (head) coach (Tom) Harvey has always been a great coach to me and always pushed me very hard."
Last year, Catholic lost to defending Class A state champion Weirton Madonna 3-1 in the regional final to fall a win short of the state tournament. "It hurt last year when we were that close to going, so I don't want to feel that again this year," said Davis. But alas he unfortunately did when PC bowed 10-3 to Charleston Catholic at the same regional-final plateau Wednesday.
Academically in college, Davis is going to study business. "I want to go into sales and marketing I'm pretty sure," he said,.
"Mitch has had a great career here for four years, and accomplished about everything he can in high school," said Harvey.
"When he first came in, he really wanted to be a shortstop, but we had to convince him, 'Look, with your arm, you can be our best outfielder.' Somewhere in his sophomore year, it clicked, and the proof's in the pudding. It makes a big difference (when) we've got him out there. And playing center (field), he's turned into a good leader."
This year, Davis was an especially-tough out - in 138 plate appearances, he struck out "only six times," said Harvey.
"We're going to miss him, that's for sure; it's hard to replace a guy like that - hitting .500 at the top of the batting order, stealing bases like it's going out of style, running down balls in the gaps - and getting them.
"I think when he gets to the next level, and he's got some advanced coaching with guys who know more about baseball, the sky's the limit for him.''