Building up interest for baseball career

Colleges: With the numbers Towson University's Gregg Davies possesses, he could jump into finance. But he's banking on other numbers - ones that translate to a field of dreams.

May 09, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

When Towson University senior Gregg Davies graduates later this month, he will enter the real world with an impressive academic standing likely to receive notice.

The business administration major has a 3.5 grade-point average, was recipient of the Doc Minnegan Scholarship as the school's top senior student-athlete and earned regular status on the America East academic honor roll in his first three years.

Not a bad resume to fall back on, huh?

But Davies says he wants to put a position in the financial field on hold - he's not ready for a suit and tie just yet.

There's a dream to chase first on the baseball diamond, where the left-handed-hitting center fielder has been busy piling up another impressive resume that has altered the Tigers' record book and can perhaps open a door to pro ball.

"It's been my dream since I was a kid, so I'd like to pursue it if I get the chance, but I don't know what the future holds," Davies said. "Right now, I'm just keeping that dream alive and going to focus on ball to pursue it to the fullest. If it doesn't work out, then I'll possibly get into banking or something."

The four-year starter and two-year co-captain enjoyed a breakthrough season as a junior (.399, 15 home runs and 74 RBIs) and hasn't stopped hitting since, putting asterisks next to seven offensive categories as Towson's career leader. Included are games played (213), at-bats (736), hits (265), runs (190), doubles (63), triples (17) and RBIs (190).

A 6-foot-2, 205-pound Sherwood High grad from Olney, Davies continues to add to each as Towson (21-25-1) tries to make a late surge to qualify for the Colonial Athletic Association tournament. At 7-11 in league play, the Tigers are battling Old Dominion (5-9) and William & Mary (7-8) for the sixth and final spot with a pivotal three-game series against visiting Old Dominion starting tomorrow afternoon at Schuerholz Park.

His work with the glove is also impressive. After moving to center field from first base in his junior season, he has made only two errors.

"He definitely holds down the defense in the outfield. When a ball goes out to him, we know it's caught. And at the plate, his numbers speak for themselves," said Scott Bacon, the Tigers' senior third baseman and Davies' roommate since the two were freshmen. "When we need the big hit or the big catch, Gregg always seems to come out of nowhere to step up. He just has a knack for it."

Davies, who was named Towson's Senior Athlete of the Year on Monday, was playing American Legion ball the summer after his sophomore year in high school. That's when he first caught the attention of Towson coach Mike Gottlieb.

"What I saw was a kid with a real nice left-handed swing," Gottlieb said.

What the 14-year coach has seen since in Davies is one of the most complete players to ever wear a Tigers uniform.

"Last year, he just exploded like I thought he was capable of - a dominant-type player," he said. "It was a combination of confidence and learning the strike zone, waiting for his pitch rather than just anything. That makes all the difference in the world."

Despite the big junior season, Davies, a third-team Louisville Slugger All-America selection, was overlooked in last year's major-league draft. Gottlieb said a couple of scouts have shown some interest this spring, when Davies has added more impressive numbers.

He's second in CAA batting at .423, is tied for first in homers with 13 and has 48 RBIs to go with a league-leading .804 slugging percentage.

"I think he deserves an opportunity," said Gottlieb. "Scouts are so much [focused on] tools: What does he do on the watch? Does he hit the ball 500 feet? Does he have a major-league arm? Gregg's a good hitter with some good power. He doesn't have the awesome power where he's going to hit it over the street. But he'll win. He'll make a great catch over the fence, he's a tough out, he can steal a base. He can beat you."

Davies started playing baseball when he was 6 years old and put his entire attention to the sport in the seventh grade when he gave up soccer. Summers during his college days have been spent in Front Royal, Va., playing in the Shenandoah Valley League.

"I'm glad I made that decision early just to give everything I have to baseball," Davies said. "It takes its toll on you, especially in the summer when others are relaxing and going to the beach and I'm in Front Royal playing six nights a week, at the field at 3 o'clock and there until 11:30. You have to put in that kind of time year-round if you want to be successful."

Davies has put in the time, and it certainly shows. He hopes others have noticed.

"It started to become a little more realistic last year when I had the really good season," Davies said. "Before that, I didn't think it was possible. I thought my last college game would be my last game played. Right now, I'm just hoping it won't be. I think I've proven that I have what it takes, and it's just whether I get the opportunity."

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