Once Davidson started to have fun, he took off at the plate and so did Clemson
During batting practice prior to the Virginia game on April 27, Seth Beer noticed something different about his Clemson teammate Logan Davidson.
“He just looked like he was enjoying himself and was having fun,” Beer said.
The fun actually started for Davidson earlier that week when the sophomore belted a couple of home runs and drove in five runs in wins over Kennesaw State and Presbyterian. Granted, Kennesaw State’s and PC’s pitching staffs are not anywhere near the talent Virginia has, but it was the shot in the arm Davidson needed.
Clemson’s shortstop came into those games hitting just .229 with more than 40 strikeouts. It was definitely not the kind of season Davidson nor his teammates was expecting. As a freshman, Davidson came onto the scene as one of the game’s best young players, hitting .286 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs.
“It was more that I kind of got out of my own way,” Davidson said. “I just started getting my foot down all the way to the barrel. That was as simple as I could possibly get it. That’s kind of the way to play baseball.
“That is what I found out recently.”
Davidson went on to record two hits in his five at-bats at Virginia as the Tigers beat the Cavaliers that day, 3-2. The next day, he hit a home run, drove in two runs and was 2-for-4 at the plate as Clemson won the game 5-4.
He finished the series the next day in the Tigers’ 9-8 victory by recording three more hits in five at-bats, while scoring three times. Davidson was now back. He was having fun again at the plate and so were the Tigers.
“For me, it just looked like he started to have some fun, again,” Beer said. “That is when it all started to click for him. That is when I knew something was going to happen. I actually remember that BP before that game when he actually started taking off at Virginia.”
In the last 19 games, Davidson has had a lot of fun, and subsequently so has Clemson.
During the current 19-game stretch, Davidson is hitting .400 overall with 10 home runs, 27 RBIs and 25 runs scored. The Tigers, who host Morehead State Friday in Game 2 of the Clemson Regional at 6 p.m., are 16-3 in those 19 games.
“I think he went back to who he was and at the end of the day that is what you have to do,” Beer said. “I think anybody in the game of baseball, whether it is a pitcher, infielder, outfielder … no matter what you have to face those obstacles. When you go out there and try to be somebody you are not, then you have to find your way back to who you are and what makes you so great.”
Before the Kennesaw State and PC games, Davidson was struggling like he never had before. However, Clemson head coach Monte Lee was not worried.
“We knew he was going to hit. It was just a matter of time,” Lee said. “He is too talented not to hit. He is going to hit. He had his struggles. He had his ups and downs, but that is the beauty of being an everyday player.
“He knows I’m going to put him in the lineup every day and he is going to get to go out there and work his way through it and he handled it well.”
Davidson’s hot streak has allowed him to lift his batting average to .298, including games in which he set Clemson records. Against Pittsburgh he became the first Clemson player in history to hit home runs from opposite sides of the plate in the same game. A week later against Notre Dame, he did it in the same inning.
“You can’t think and hit. You have heard that before I’m sure,” Davidson said. “You can’t guess what he is going to throw. You can’t swing before it gets there. You can’t think and hit. You just have to react. That is probably the best thing that I have learned.”
The sophomore also learned not to let it affect the rest of his game. As the starting shortstop it is important he comes to work every day and does not bring the offensive side of the game over to the defensive side. Considering he has just seven errors in 59 games this year and has a .970 fielding percentage, Davidson did allow any of that to happen.
“A shortstop has to be a defender first and that is what we tell our shortstops. When you are not hitting then you have to bring it every day in the dirt,” Lee said. “You have to make every single play for our pitching staff even when you are not hitting. That is your primary goal first and foremost is to be a great defender.
“That is the thing that I have been most impressed with Logan is the transformation he made from his freshman year to this year is how much better he is defensively. That is another big factor for Logan right now. Even when he was not hitting at his best, he handled it the right way and he kept plugging away and kept working. He has now put together good at-bats and has been much better for us the second half of the year offensively.”
More than anything, Davidson is just having fun.
“I think when guys finally figure that out and guys get comfortable with whom they are and what they did and why they were recruited here, then I think that is something special,” Beer said.