The Colorado State University club baseball team has generated a flurry of runs in their 14 wins this season, but even on a team loaded with offensive talent, senior second baseman Matt Davis has hit his way above the rest in his final season as a Ram.
According to the National Club Baseball Association, in Davis’ 46 at-bats this season, the senior leads the Rams with 26 hits, including six doubles and four homeruns, for a .565 batting average. Davis also leads all CSU hitters with a .644 on-base percentage and 29 runs batted in through 18 games. The next Ram closest to Davis, with at least 20 at-bats, is shortstop Matthew Smith who has racked up 22 hits for a .440 batting average.
The Mill Valley, California native played shortstop and pitched for his high school baseball team before moving over to the second base position. Despite a successful high school baseball career, featuring an appearance in the California Division III state championship game at the Oakland Coliseum, Davis enrolled at CSU because of family connections and his fondness for the town and campus, not because of the baseball team.
“I knew I wanted to be on the baseball team, but I didn’t know anything about the team really,” Davis said. “I didn’t know if they were good or if they were bad, so I kind of got lucky with them taking it so seriously and winning and always making nationals.”
Davis jumped on the team as a freshman and put together an exceptional sophomore season at the plate. He admits his third and fourth years weren’t as strong, but says this season is shaping up to be the best of his career.
Davis’ prolific season may come off as a surprise to those following the team from afar, but coach Troy Tolar knew Davis was able to put together a season like this after a strong tournament in Dallas at the end of the fall season.
“When we went to Dallas I saw that he had really kind of stepped up his game throughout the fall,” Tolar said. “Dallas was kind of a chance for him to really put it together and he ended up winning co-MVP with one of our pitchers for the tournament.”
Others on the team knew Davis was capable of putting up huge numbers and were just waiting to see the results.
“It was kind of a waiting game. When he showed up he was raking,” said Matt Hart, an outfielder for the Rams and one of Davis’ roommates. “And then he’s been through some hot streaks and slumps throughout the years, but nothing hotter than right now.”
Now in his fifth and final season as a Ram, Davis is using his experience to take on more of a leadership role and help guide CSU back to nationals.
“I didn’t play in the fall and coming around this spring, I really think he kind of changed his whole demeanor and mindset to really turn into a leadership role,” Hart said.
Davis’ biggest impact on the team has come from the batter’s box, but even when he’s not up to the plate, the leadership role Hart was talking about has made a noticeable impression on this year’s team.
“If we’re ever slumping or down…Matt will pick the team right back up and get everybody on the fence for the rest of the game,” said Phil Miller, a pitcher for the Rams and another one of Davis’ roommates. “He’s definitely a hype-man and people love it. When he’s not there, or some days he’s late for practice and stuff, it’s definitely noticeable.”
Despite the energy he generates on the bench and his extraordinary numbers at the plate, you would never know he’s a leader on the team just by talking to him. Both Davis’ teammates and coach recognize how humble he has stayed during this hot hitting streak.
“He’s one of those quiet leaders and really just puts his head down and works hard,” Tolar said.
With games and tournaments sometimes separated by weeks at a time, it can be a challenge to carry momentum from one game to the next. Davis says that he has been able to keep up his torrid pace at the plate by taking every rep at practice seriously.
“Everyday at practice he works hard and wants to be better,” Tolar said. “He’s really good at taking feedback on where he can improve and how he can be a better leader.”
Davis’ ability to put up big numbers and carry the momentum from game-to-game this season is a testament to the hard work he has put in the last four-plus years. But Davis will ultimately only be satisfied if the team can take home a national championship at the end of the season.
“Personal goals are our personal goals, but team goals are more important,” Davis said. “Nothing means anything without a ring.”
Davis and the Rams have put together almost a season’s worth of runs and hits in the 18 games they’ve played this season, but Davis insists that they are only getting started.
“I think we’re still warming up,” Davis said. “We’re in our prime, but there’s a lot more to come.”
Collegian sports reporter Christian Hedrick can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christianhCSU