Hailing from the San Francisco Bay area, Andre Davis had to adjust when he came to play baseball at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
It was his first time living away from his hometown of Castro Valley, Calif. Even the junior college he attended, Chabot, was just minutes from his house. In addition to his new surroundings, he had to get used to a different pace of life.
“Where I’m from, everything is go, go, go,” said Davis, a junior for the Golden Lions. “Here, it’s a lot slower pace of life. I had to slow myself down coming out here.”
Davis said he, indeed, has managed to slow himself down. The opposition hasn’t been quite as successful.
Heading into Tuesday’s game against Louisiana-Monroe, Davis, who doubles as a position player and a pitcher, ranked in the top 10 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference in several major categories.
His .378 batting average stood at fourth. He was second in slugging at .658 and fourth in RBIs with 35. He also ranked seventh in the SWAC in ERA (2.45) and had three saves.
More importantly, he has helped the Golden Lions to the top of the SWAC West with an 13-3 mark and a 19-12 overall mark.
“I’m happy with the way the season is turning out,” said Davis. “But I give credit to the coaching staff. They get us ready to play every day. Every time we step on the field we’re ready to go.”
Still, Davis’ role in some of the Golden Lions’ biggest wins cannot be understated.
In February against Louisiana Tech, his RBI single in the eighth broke a 4-4 tie and sent UAPB to a 5-4 victory. Two weeks later, against seventh-ranked Mississippi State, Davis drew a bases-loaded walk in the eighth inning to snap a 2-2 tie and give the Lions a 3-2 victory.
He also pitched four innings of scoreless, two-hit relief to pick up the win. The loss was the first of the season for the highly touted Bulldogs.
And in late March against Missouri, Davis went 2 for 5 with a run and an RBI and pitched a scoreless inning of relief in a convincing 8-3 win.
Again, the humble Davis chose to deflect the attention elsewhere.
“It’s definitely exciting for the team,” he said. “We expect to compete and expect to win. And when all the work we put in throughout the fall shows itself on the field against teams that are supposedly better than the average Division I team, it builds our confidence. It shows other people that we do here isn’t for nothing.
“I was just happy I was able to help the team win. This is a team game, so any little thing I can do to help that turns out to be the game-winning moment, I just did my job.”
Scouts have taken notice. At 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, Davis has a pro body. He can hit for power – he has six homers this season – as well as average. On the mound, the lefty’s fastball has clocked from the mid- to high-90s on the radar gun.
UAPB sports information assistant Cameo Stokes said scouts have been to several games. For one late-March contest in New Orleans, Stokes said, 13 scouts with their video recorders and stop watches hung on Davis’ every move.
Davis takes the attention in stride.
“The way I treat it is, it’s a game,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been doing a huge percentage of my life. With a couple more people coming out to watch, it’s nothing different. It’s still baseball.”
Davis admitted the thought of playing professionally is tantalizing. He said he would be equally comfortable being drafted as a pitcher or a position player.
Until then, his main focus is to keep the Golden Lions winning games. He may be far from home, but contributing to the success of UAPB gets him closer to his dream of playing professionally.
“I love it,” he said. “I love the school. Probably the best decision I’ve made was to come here — baseball and regular school wise.”