A little more than a year ago Eli Davis went from one of the highest highs to one of the lowest lows in his baseball life. Now he is back.
I knew this was coming.
A little more than a year ago Eli Davis went from one of the highest highs to one of the lowest lows in his baseball life.
In early May, he was part of the Shawnee Wolves 40-0 National Champion baseball team. Davis and the team he had played with for years won their third state title in a row after completing an undefeated
season. The first two came with Davis pitching. But he couldn’t pitch in the 2017 championship game. Early in the season, Davis fell prey to something all pitchers fear. He threw a pitch and felt a twinge of pain. He knew something was wrong.
In fact, his ulnar collateral ligament was 70 percent torn. Every movement meant risking tearing it the rest of the way.
But because his injury was going to require surgery regardless, he decided to wait until the season ended or until the injury made playing impossible to have corrective surgery.
He played centerfield and led off for the Wolves. He couldn’t contribute in his traditional role as a pitcher, so he found a way to help his team win.
Davis’ injury made the Wolves’ undefeated season
even more unlikely. Another great Division I pitcher, Tanner Sparks, battled soreness in his pitching arm all year, as well.
Sparks pitched well for Shawnee, but he also found ways to contribute when he was hurting. I can’t imagine another player coming through in the clutch like he did - as many times as he did - in big situations.
With the other two big time college players fighting through pain, Jake Taylor had to play new roles as well and he even pitched the state title game.
Taylor is what a college baseball player would look like if you forged one out of steel. Everyone likes to point at the talent level up and down Shawnee’s lineup last year and diminish their accomplishments. What we can all learn from that team is that talent is step one in the process.
That team proved that hard work and willingness to sacrifice are where championships come from.
Speaking of that hard work, after missing his first collegiate season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Davis was able to take the mound in a game again this week.
I knew he would be back. I watched him battle pain his senior year to the point where he couldn’t play catch or throw balls in from center field, yet he still fought hard on offense with big at bats and great base running.
Davis knows what it takes to be a winner.
Statistics say that he is 5’8” tall and 140 pounds. But that is on the outside. Inside, Davis is nine feet tall and bulletproof.
Not only did Davis pitch this week, he got the start for his Kansas University team against a Russian team in a game played in Taiwan. I knew Davis would pitch again. I didn’t know that it would be halfway around the world.
Davis hadn’t thrown in a game in more than a year. You could tell in the first inning when he gave up two runs. Not surprisingly, Davis got comfortable on the mound and shut out the Russian team for the next two innings before he was pulled leading
4-2 after three innings. He struck out two. There will be a lot more where those came from.
Davis’ team beat Russia 12-2 to advance to the medal round. He probably won’t be throwing again in that game on a quick turnaround, but Davis told Coach Todd Boyer that he was ready to pitch anytime his team needed last year him when his arm was hanging by a thread. I know he would do whatever it takes to feel another medal hung around his neck in Taiwan.
Davis and his Shawnee teammates that won state three straight times were all talented, but there are a lot of talented baseball players. The ones who will give blood, sweat and tears are the ones who come out on top.
I can’t wait to watch that group over the next few years.
They are all winners who have earned their chance at the next level. None of them went through more to have the opportunity than Davis.
He’s back and you better not doubt him.