Baseball Update: Davidson Bats Sing in Early Dominance

By: Will Jones’ 19

Sports Writer

Davidson Baseball celebrates a win as team hopes to follow last year’s tournament success. Courtesy of Jane Campbell ’87.

The Davidson Wildcats baseball team is not resting on its laurels. After a wild season last year that saw the ‘Cats claim their first A-10 Conference Title, and first A-10 title across all sports in school history, and defy the odds to make an appearance at the Super Regional against perennial national title contender Texas A&M, the boys are not holding anything back, and their early season dominance has shown it.

The ‘Cats jumped out to a fast start after winning 8 of their first 10 games, and haven’t slowed down since, sitting currently at 15-8 overall. The bats have been red hot so far, as Davidson has outscored its opponents 148-88 through the halfway point. From behind the plate to the batter’s box, catcher Eric Jones ‘19 has been leading the offensive charge, batting .341 with 5 HR and 34 RBI, including a week in February where he batted in 17 runs to snag National Player of the Week honors.

Jones has also earned himself two A-10 Player of the Week awards, with certainly more to come in the months ahead. Jones isn’t the only slugger in the crew, as teammates Alex Mardiney ‘20, Cam Johnson ‘18, Andrew Born ‘18, and Max Bazin ‘19 are all batting above .300 on the year. Hitting has had a significant impact on the team’s performance, as the ‘Cats have a .769 win percentage when scoring more than 2 runs in a game. In fact, the key to Davidson’s slugging has been getting the bats going early, as more than 51% of their runs have come in the first 3 innings.

And yet, power does not tell the whole tale; superb pitching has lifted the ‘Cats as well. When the ‘Cats hold opponents to 3 runs or less, which they’ve done in more than half of their games, they have a .917 win percentage to go with an 8-0 record when holding opponents to 2 runs or less. Connor Gordon ‘18, who landed A-10 Pitcher of the Week honors the same week that Jones exploded at the plate, leads Wildcat starters with a 1.64 ERA through 22 innings pitched and 4 starts. Allen Barry ‘19 leads the team so far with 38 strikeouts, while the trio of Austin Leonard ‘19, Z.J. Zabinski ‘20, and Casey Sutherland ‘19 combine for a 1.77 ERA over 35.2 innings of relief pitching.

However, conference play is not going to be nearly the cakewalk that the first half has been. The ‘Cats got a taste of this during this past weekend’s series against Fordham, which saw the Rams take the series 2-1. Indeed, according to Coach Dick Cooke, “This year is, by far, our toughest A-10 regular season schedule since we’ve been in the league.” 13 teams play baseball in the A-10, and the ‘Cats only see 8 of them each season, but this year’s slate includes series against VCU, Rhode Island, and St. Louis, all of whom were title contenders during last year’s Cinderella victory at the conference tournament. Furthermore, Fordham came into the last series ranked 3rd in the country in stolen base percentage (at 76.8%), and armed with one of the most dangerous pitching rosters in the conference.

Davidson fared admirably, though, as the ‘Cats held the Rams to just 5 stolen bases on 10 attempts, and the games were decided by an average of just 2.67 runs. Coach Cooke acknowledges that defense has been the ‘Cats Achilles-heel all year, as opponents had higher fielding average over the first half of the season (.972 vs .950). Nevertheless, Cooke and the boys anticipate an exciting finish to the season, which also includes matchups with South Carolina, Wake Forest, and two against Duke, who is currently ranked top-25 in the nation. Interestingly, the head coach at Duke, Chris Pollard ‘96, played under and coached alongside Cooke at Davidson.

While the slate is tough, and the odds may be stiff, the Davidson men’s baseball team has been known to step up when the gloves are thrown, and they don’t intend on changing that any time soon.

Davidson’s next game is against Rhode Island on Friday night. The ‘Cats next return to Wilson Field on Friday, April 6th, for a 3-game homestand against George Mason.

Comments are closed.