The Salem News
---- — For the first time since the NESCAC baseball playoff system was initiated in 2001, Bates College is one of the four teams in action this weekend to determine a championship. One of the big reasons why is former St. John’s Prep standout Kevin Davis.
The senior third baseman comes into the playoffs with a .363 batting average. In 113 at-bats he has 41 hits, including 10 doubles, one homer, 24 RBI and an on-base percentage of .409. His walk off sacrifice fly plated the winning run in an extra inning 6-5 victory over Tufts last weekend.
Tufts edged the Bobcats (19-19 overall) for first place in the East while Wesleyan and Amherst represent the West Division in the double elimination format, with the title game being held tomorrow.
“It’s exciting,” said Davis, an English major who already has a job with Fidelity after graduation. “It’s definitely my best year. I hit around .350 last season and .320 the year before.
“This is a huge weekend for our program. Last year we knew we had the talent, but lost a lot of one-run games. This time we’ve been able to put it all together, even after an 0-6 start.
“It’s tough for us to get going early because NESCAC teams can’t start practicing until February 15,” continued Davis. “Our breaks are set up like high school, with one in February and another in April instead of the usual spring break most colleges have. We had only one day of practice indoors, taking ground balls on a rubber floor before leaving for Georgia, to play six games in a row. Our hitting was pretty good, but we made a ton of errors that led to unearned runs.”
The team’s cleanup hitter, Davis said once the Bobcats returned home they started to click.
He is happy to be the regular third baseman this season. He played a lot at the hot corner a year ago along with time in the outfield and at first base. “I’m more comfortable at third because I didn’t play much outfield in high school,” said Davis, who also played football.
“I’m expecting very one-run games in the tournament. We didn’t face Wesleyan (their first opponent) this year, but had two close games with them a year ago. They’ve got most of their squad back.”
Davis is glad finals are over so he can concentrate on baseball and prepare for graduation May 25.
Another former Prep player, sophomore pitcher Rob DiFranco, has also been clutch for the Bobcats in relief. He has appeared in 14 games, pitched 20 innings, and struck out 27. His record is 3-3 with a 3.60 ERA.
“We’re all pretty excited about the playoffs,” said DiFranco. “We know every team there is going to be tough, but we’re ready. It would have been great to host, but we didn’t sweep Tufts so we’re on the road.”
Another former St. John’s Prep athlete is starring in field events for the Bobcats’ track team. Junior Sean Enos received All-NESCAC honors in the hammer throw, discus and shot put to bring his total to eight in his college career.
Enos, who was named Bobcat of the Week, won the hammer throw and shot put while taking second in the discus at the Division 3 New England’s at Springfield College earlier this month. He scored 28 out of a possible 30 points to help his team finish second behind MIT.
Enos had a personal best in the hammer (189 feet 4 inches) to move into ninth place on the college’s all-time list. He moved up from fifth to second, passing former Prep star Chris Murtagh, who graduated in 2011, in the shot put. His throw of 56-2 1/2 beat his nearest competitor by almost six feet.
He is finally healthy again after battling an injury and ready for the big meets ahead, culminating with NCAA Nationals May 22-24 in Delaware, Ohio, where he hopes to add to his All-American status.
Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at email@example.com.