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Shorecrest grad gets national baseball honor

A former two-sport standout at Shorecrest Prep has earned national recognition on the baseball team at Campbell University.

Senior catcher Jeff Davis, who was an all-state linebacker for the 1995 Chargers, was named the Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week by the Collegiate Baseball newspaper for the period ending May 14.

In four games that week, Davis batted .642 (9-for-14), including a 7-for-7 performance in a 19-9 romp over Virginia Tech. Against the Hokies, he doubled twice, scored four runs and drove in four more from his lead-off spot in the batting order. Over the four-game span, he raised his batting average 37 points to .308.

The 7-for-7 performance fell one hit shy of the school record set by Henry Rochelle in 1985.

Going into the Trans America Athletic Conference (TAAC) tournament last weekend, Davis had 10 doubles, four home runs, 28 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 44 games. He ranks seventh nationally in stolen bases among catchers (12 of 13).

Defensively, Davis has thrown out 23 of 57 runners (40 percent) to rank second among TAAC backstops.

After being swept by TAAC regular-season winner Central Florida last weekend in a three-game series, the Camels from Buies Creek, N.C., defeated the top-seeded Knights 5-0 in the opening game of the double-elimination championship tournament.

Davis singled, walked, reached on an error and scored twice in the upset.

"We knew we were capable of beating anyone coming into this tournament," said Davis, who played his first collegiate year at Florida Atlantic before transfering. "Pitching is going to make the difference. All these teams are pretty close; this tournament is intense with the prospect of three teams from the conference earning an NCAA tournament invitation."

Davis reflected on his 7-for-7 game against Virginia Tech, saying he always seemed to get ahead in the count and then wait for his pitch, something down the middle.

"They were all clean hits off fastballs," said Davis, who is majoring in trust management. "Only one was a chopper."

Davis also reflected on what could have been if he had decided to play college football instead of baseball. He was Pinellas County's leading rusher in 1995 (17 touchdowns and 1,375 yards on 163 carries) and was named to the all-Suncoast first team.

"Although I sometimes wonder what might have been if I stayed with football," he said, "I'm glad I gave it up. I'm also glad I transfered to Campbell. It's a good atmosphere with good facilities and a great bunch of guys."

Davis said he learned the tricks of the catching trade from then-assistant Shorecrest coach Don Reed, who is the father of Chicago Cubs catcher Jeff Reed, a 17-year major-leaguer.

Campbell head coach Chip Smith acknowledged that it's unusual for a catcher to lead off, but said he has Davis in that position for one reason.

"He's got a good eye and gets on base," said Smith, who was named conference coach of the year. "He's very consistent with his stroke, using his hands and keeping his head still; that's the key. He's a co-captain this year and leads by example; he's not a rah rah-type player."

MORE TAAC: Central Florida first baseman Matt Bowser (Tarpon Springs) was named to the conference first team. The junior bats cleanup and had a single in four trips to the plate in Wednesday's loss to Campbell.

Florida Atlantic senior outfielder Zach Roper (Tarpon Springs/Pasco-Hernando Community College) was named to the second team. He was selected the conference's final player of the week after batting .500 (9-for-18) with two homers, seven RBI and three runs in four games last week. In Wednesday's first-round 4-3 tournament win over Georgia State, he went 1-for-4.

Patrick Boyd (Clearwater Central Catholic) started in the outfield in Clemson's 9-5 win over Virginia at the same venue last Thursday.

SOFTBALL: Sophomore pitcher/outfielder Nikki Myers (St. Petersburg High), a pre-med student Florida Atlantic, has been named TAAC Player of the Year.

She started all 72 games for the Owls during the regular season, posting a 22-6 pitching record with a 0.85 ERA. In 28 starts, she completed 27 games and had 12 shutouts. She struck out 307 against only 40 walks.

Florida Atlantic is playing in the NCAA regional this weekend at Tempe, Ariz., with ambitions of moving on to the Women's College World Series May 25-29 at Oklahoma City.

Andi Lyons (Tarpon Springs/SPJC), the starting catcher at Florida State (48-25), is in Los Angeles playing in the NCAA regional there. She batted .206 for the regular season.

Jessica Kurella (Dunedin) started every game for Campbell (20-35) in leftfield, batting .181 for the season.

DeSANTIS ELECTED: R.D. DeSantis (Dunedin) has been elected captain of the Yale baseball team for the 2001 season. He batted .314 this past season, third-best on the team. He was second in RBI (28) and home runs (5).

A second honor for DeSantis was being named a GTE District I Academic All-American. A political science major, he has a 3.68 GPA.

TENNIS: Joel Berman and Lauren Scaglione (both Seminole) won their singles matches over Notre Dame to help Miami win both the men's and women's Big East titles. Both teams lost in the NCAA regional to end their seasons.