“I like pitching because I can try to outsmart the hitter,” Davis said / Photo credit Brandon McIntire, editor East Yearbook
Baseball is not for the weak minded. It’s a thinking man’s game, and that’s exactly why East’s Gaten Davis excels.
The senior honor-roll student is one of the best pitchers in the Cook Inlet Conference because he uses his brain more than his brawn.
“I like pitching because I can try to outsmart the hitter,” he told me. “It’s not about throwing as hard as you can. It’s about getting batters off balance and getting them out anyway you can.”
The 6-foot-6 right-hander is a big man that prefers to keep batters guessing by mixing up his speed and location.
“When I was younger, I would try to blow it by people but then everybody started to catch up. I had to learn how to keep them off balance with changeups and curveballs,” he said. “I paint corners and try not to throw the same pitch all the time. I try to get them to roll over [on the ball] rather than getting strikeouts.”
Davis, 17, is eager to apply his methods at the next level and after his final high school season he will just that at Dean College, a junior college in Franklin, Massachusetts.
“I went to visit last week and I liked the facilities, the programs there and it was my pick,” he said.
Dean College is located about 30 minutes outside of Boston.
“I’ve always been a Boston sports fan,” he said. “I’ll go to the games, check out the culture and experience new things – that’s probably the most interesting thing to me and what I liked the most.”
Davis used a recruiting program called ‘Next College Student Athlete’ that connected him with college coaches. He said about five or six contacted him through his coach, Kurt Solberg.
Coaches probably liked the fact Davis was a complete student-athlete. He’s an all-conference pitcher and honor-roll student that carries a 4.2 GPA. He plans to major in sports management.
He takes his academics just as seriously as his athletics, studying for a test the same way he studies an opposing lineup.
“I want to do the best I can at everything I do, so everything I do I do it to my full potential,” he said. “I feel like I can do, so if I can do it why not do it every time.”
Where it’s getting As in the classroom or Ks on the baseball field, Davis gets the job done.
“Over the years, seeing I could perform at a high level and get the grades pushed me to do it and continue to do it and perform well on the field,” he said.
When he’s not pitching, Davis plays first base and third base. But his bread and butter is on the bump, where he mixes fastballs, curveballs and changeups.
He’s the ace of the T-bird pitching staff, the kind of player that can carry a team to the CIC playoffs in a short 10-game regular season.
“We’re going to be better than we were last year,” Davis said of East. “We’ve got a lot of good, young talent and the seniors are providing leadership. We have a chance to be a sleeper pick.”
Van Williams is a freelance writer in Anchorage and a correspondent for the Alaska School Activities Association.