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Monday, October 14, 2019

Baseball

Senior star batting at career-high level


Senior Joe Davis has raised the home run hammer eight times this season. It was welded together by his brother John to look like Thor’s famous Mjölnir hammer and is lifted after every home run by the hitter. | Andres Chio/The Cougar

The Cougars are a third of the way through the season and are about to start up league play in the American Athletic Conference with one of the hottest bats in college baseball.

Senior leader Joe Davis has led Houston through a tough non-conference schedule with a positive record, and the team is ready to keep battling for more wins.

Davis heated up at the end of last season and hit seven home runs in the AAC and NCAA tournaments across nine games to help the team make it to the Chapel Hill Regional finals.

He has not missed a beat and has taken the momentum into 2019.

The senior slugger has hit eight home runs in the first 19 games of the season and has 27 RBIs from 25 hits. He holds the school home run record with 43 in his career and continues to build on it each week.

“It definitely built on my confidence going into this one. It kind of helps calm down the game a bit,” Davis said.

As of Tuesday morning, Davis has a team-leading .347 batting average and an incredible .764 slugging percentage.

Davis is No. 8, in the entirety of college baseball for home runs and top 20 in the nation with his slugging percentage.

“One thing about Joe Davis is that he is consistent. Every year he has put up similar numbers,” said head coach Todd Whitting, though even he did not predict just how hot of a run Davis would go on to start his last campaign for the Cougars.

Senior Grayson Padgett said Davis’s consistency is a great help and he is someone they all rely on.

“Joe Davis is always going to be Joe Davis. He’s going to hit bombs, and he’s going to strike the ball,” Padgett said. “We’re going to score a lot of runs this year.”

The baseball season is long and players go in and out of form during it, but Davis is on track to hit over two dozen home runs this season.

He has already matched his total home runs from his sophomore year, when he hit eight in 61 games played, and is on track to shatter his season-high of 14 that he had across 59 games in his freshman year.

Whitting said one of the biggest things that helped Davis was he had a full, healthy year to train for the first time in his college career.

Davis won the AAC Rookie of the Year award in his first season, but he ran into injury trouble during his sophomore season.

That put some of the work he had done in the offseason to waste, as Davis was not able to use it to the fullest extent.

He spent the offseason before his junior season getting surgery and recovering, and it took him a good part of the regular season before he got going.

His junior year was a healthy one, and he was able to spend the entire summer and fall improving his game for this year.

It has clearly paid off, but it will be hard to continue this breakneck pace.

That won’t keep Davis from trying as he and the Cougars look to defend their AAC league championship and make it to Omaha.

Houston will start its conference season at 6:30 p.m. Friday against UConn at Darryl & Lori Schroeder Park.

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