Beginning today, former Madera Coyote softball standout Mariah Davis will begin her last few months in Florida while finishing out her distinguished softball career.
Davis begins her senior year at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla., and is a little worried about what’s next.
“I’m nervous for the real world,” Davis said. “I don’t know a life without softball. That’s all I can think about is what am I going to do without softball.”
Davis, who was a first team All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference member last season, hopes for the same, if not more, for her senior year.
“I want the team to win a championship and I leave with a ring,” she said. “For myself, I want to get all-conference and become an Academic All-American. The grades have been really good. Last semester, it was all A’s and one B. I would say that’s pretty good.”
Davis wants to eventually become a pediatrician, but will try to stay with softball for as long as she can. She will try to become a graduate assistant coach to help earn her master’s degree and then think about becoming a doctor.
“I try not to feel nerves and put pressure on myself,” she said. “I just want to play the game the way I know how to play and continue to do it the way I know how.”
Davis has grown quite a bit since since starting out as a freshman at BCU after earning The Madera Tribune’s Most Valuable Player award for softball three years in a row to earning All-Conference honors in college.
“I think I’ve grown as a player because I learned how to hit my pitch and take advantage of what’s thrown to me,” she said. “I know my situations and know how to hit with the slap and bunts. When things aren’t going my way, that’s where I think I’ve grown the most, growing as a player when things aren’t going my way, but still finding a way to leading my team.”
Last season, Davis was third on the team with a .365 batting average and led the conference with 45 runs scored. She also had seven triples, 14 RBI and 16 stolen bases. She also led the conference with 69 hits and tied for the lead in triples. She was third in total bases, tied for sixth in stolen bases, first in plate appearances and at bats from the lead off spot.
“I get to do what I want at the plate, unless it’s a sacrifice or squeeze play,” Davis said. “I’m 100 percent confident in putting the ball down on a bunt, unless they throw a crazy pitch.”
Although Davis played second base for most of her high school career, she was immediately placed in centerfield at Bethune. However, Davis is accustomed to the position and it’s home for her.
“Playing center field is natural now,” she said. “Sometimes at practice, I’ll go in and play second base, but I’m comfortable in center field.”
The ultimate goal for Davis is to get Bethune a MEAC championship.
“We haven’t won the MEAC in a couple of years and we’ve been in the championship game every year,” she said. “For my senior year, I want to close it out with a win.”
However, Davis is quick to point out that she doesn’t know where she would be if she didn’t turn around during her freshman season. She was batting near .200 as a right-handed hitter. Coyote head coach Judy Shaubach insisted on making her a slap hitter. About midway through the season, Davis relented and went to work as a left-handed slap hitter. History was made from there when Davis broke school records for batting average, hits, runs and stolen bases.
“It’s crazy to look back and think what I would have done if I wasn’t a slapper,” she said. “If I wouldn’t have become a slapper, I don’t even think I would have been on varsity. I don’t think I would be playing softball in college. It’s crazy how much I have grown confident in my slap and understanding my slapping ability. I have more weapons than I had my freshman year.”
Before Davis heads back to school, she wants to remind other students who are headed off to college to take advantage of what you have and don’t take it for granted.
“You never realize or appreciate the little things,” she said. “Take advantage of those little things, especially holidays with your family. Those can be taken away from you. I’m a huge family person so to be away from those events for four years is hard. Spend as much time with your family as you can. You have to disciplined and understand your responsibilities because it’s a different life. I had to grow up really fast. I had to learn to manage money. I didn’t have my dad harping to get me to practice. My mom can’t buy my laundry detergent anymore.”
In softball, Davis said to trust your coaches and work hard. They have your best interest in their heart.
“When I was younger, I was never the big girl,” she said. “I’m small. How I got away with things and how people noticed me was I worked hard, outhustled people and used my voice. I’ve always trusted the process. What my dad and coaches have told me, I’ve always believed that and bought into it because I know they would never lead me in the wrong direction. I bought in and look where it got me.”