By KEVIN WEAKS
Kayla Davidson’s glove has kept her on the field. She hopes to get back into the batter’s box soon.
The former South Fulton softball standout has played in 69 games over the past two seasons at Austin Peay, including all 35 this season. Her fielding skills has made her valuable to the Lady Governors’ lineup, but she has been moved out of the batting order in favor of a designated hitter several times this season.
“I’m in a hitting slump right now, so she (head coach Casey Dickson) has me in mainly for defense. I’m trying to get back in the batting order, but my defense is good right now so I’m happy with that. I feel like if I show up for extra practice, work and prove I can do it, I’ll get back in the lineup.”
Davidson has been nearly flawless in the field.
Moving to this base this season, she has a .975 fielding percentage with just three errors in 118 chances. Davidson has 84 assists and 31 put-outs, while starting six double plays.
In Thursday afternoon’s 1-0 loss to UT Martin at Bettye Giles Field, she recorded two outs, going over the short fence in front of her team’s dugout to grab a fly ball, along with three assists.
“It’s a nice time come back home,” Davidson said of returning to northwest Tennessee to play the Skyhawks. “It’s nice to have my family here and to have people who don’t get to see me play much or have never seen me play come out.”
Fielding has been Davidson’s foundation in college.
As a freshman, she played in 35 of the Lady Govs’ 52 games, starting 29. A middle infielder her freshman season, Davidson finished with a .902 fielding percentage. She had 50 put-outs and 51 assists while committing 11 errors.
A solid hitter for the Red Devilettes, Davidson has found the collegiate game to be a big adjustment.
Davidson batted .340 with 31 RBI as a junior and followed up by hitting .341 with three home runs and 19 RBI her senior season at SF. The college pitch, however, has been tougher to hit.
Davidson was 9-of-56 at the plate for a .161 average her freshman season. She doubled twice and tripled once, scoring six times and driving in five runs with a .232 slugging percentage. Davidson walked six times and struck out 16 times.
This season, she is hitting .178, going 8-for-45 with eight runs and four RBI. She has walked five times and struck out 13 times.
Davidson has managed to show glimpses of her power this season, hitting three home runs and a triple.
Her power surge came early in the season with home runs in both ends of a doubleheader against Trevecca Nazarene on Feb. 22, including a walk-off solo shot for a 2-1 win in the second game, and another round-tripper on March 3rd against North Texas. Her triple came in a loss to Tulsa on March 2nd.
While Austin Peay missed the Ohio Valley Conference tournament last season with a 12-40 overall record and 7-23 league mark and is currently on the outside looking in for a berth this season with records of 12-22 and 6-12, Davidson has never wavered in her decision to move off to Clarksville.
“I love it in Clarksville,” she said. “It’s a good place, and Austin Peay is a good school.”
Davidson wants to help get her team back on track in order to become one of the six teams that advance to the league tournament.
“Going to the tournament, that’s what I want to do,” Davidson said. “And, then come back and beat them (UTM) on their field. It’s good to come back and show a school that didn’t want me that you should have wanted me.”
Sports reporter Kevin Weaks can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 4.13.12