James first freshman to bat .400

Published 9:40 am Thursday, May 26, 2022

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By Brian Pitts

Davie Enterprise Record

Between 1956-2021, Davie baseball saw 19 guys reach the .400 batting average plateau a total of 22 times.

In 1958, Allen Bailey became the first to do it with a .479 average as a senior.

In the 1960s, Norman Woodward (.402 as a 1962 junior), Grimes Parker (.589 as a 1963 senior) and Roger Pierce (.532 as a 1963 junior) joined the .400 club.

Only one War Eagle hit the mark in the 1970s, that being Ron Bivins with a .425 clip as a 1976 senior.

The 1980s produced four such hitters: Doug Kelly (.442 as a 1983 junior), Danny Shore (.432 as a 1988 senior), Michael McDaniel (.547 as a 1989 senior) and Matt Marion (.409 as a 1989 junior).

Three War Eagles hit the magic number in the 1990s: Bubba Coleman (.414 as a 1993 senior), Drew Ridenhour (.474 as a 1999 junior) and Vic Patti (.450 as a 1999 senior).

The 2000s included Andrew Daywalt (.432 as a 2001 junior, .467 as a 2002 senior), Ricky Bentley (.406 as a 2001 senior) and Whit Merrifield (.441 as a 2005 sophomore, .461 as a 2006 junior).

In the 2010s, the club grew to 20 guys in 64 years with Carson Herndon (.442 as a 2011 senior), Alex Newman (.409 as a 2011 senior), Corey Randall (.412 as a 2011 junior, .506 as a 2012 senior) and Chris Reynolds (.405 as a 2017 senior).

Through 2021, the .400 club included 13 seniors, eight juniors and one sophomore. Yep, it’s an exclusive club.

But how about this list: How many freshmen have hit .400 in a season? The answer is one. Coy James created a one-man list in 2022 by hitting .409 (36 for 88), or Davie’s highest average in 10 years. Let that sink in.

“It honestly makes me feel really good,” James said. “I mean I work really hard with my dad (Matt), my coaches and teammates to be the best I can be and be able to do stuff like this and hit over .400 as a freshman.”

There’s a spectacular trio in Merrifield, Daywalt and Randall, the only ones in history to repeat as .400 hitters. Merrifield, the veteran leadoff man for the Kansas City Royals, is the only 3-timer. But as great as those guys would become, they did not dominate as freshmen. Merrifield hit .283 (23 for 81) as a 2004 freshman. Daywalt hit .225 (16-71) as a 1999 freshman. And Randall only got four varsity at-bats as a freshman, getting one hit.

James, on the other hand, wasted no time becoming a star. Coach Joey Anderson penciled James in the leadoff spot on Day One and he stayed there for all 24 games. He responded by hitting safely in 20 games, including a 14-game hitting streak that represents Davie’s third-best streak this century.

“I think it might have been a little above my expectations,” James said. “I hoped to really do well, but I didn’t think I would have played as well as I did.”

With Davie’s season in the books, James’ attention is now on showcase ball. He’ll play 60-plus games this summer, many of them in Florida and Georgia.

“The tournaments are a week long,” he said. “We’ll play for a week and then have a week off and then we’ll play five or six more days.”

Lawson To Barton

Although his Davie career was short-circuited by injuries, senior Daniel Lawson is headed to the next level. Last week he signed with Barton College in Wilson.

After getting 14 varsity at-bats as a freshman/sophomore, Lawson was all set to be one of the main guys as a junior. He was hitting .300 (6-20) through seven games, including a two-hit, five-RBI performance at Glenn. But that would be his final game in 2021; he missed the last six with an injury.

“Last year was his left labrum, and he had surgery on it” Anderson said. “First it was a thumb issue and then he had labrum issues.”

Lawson still wasn’t 100 percent as he entered his senior season, sitting out two of the first three games. But when he finally got healthy enough to handle the catching duties and bat fourth or fifth as an everyday player, he got in a groove. When he went 2 for 4 with a double on March 29, his senior year was going as good as he could have hoped for – a .400 average (10-25) with eight walks/hit by pitches.

But then another injury forced Lawson to shut it down for the second year in a row, and he was a spectator for the last 14 games. Considering how much time he was forced to miss – 20 games in two seasons – it’s a great thing to see him get a chance to continue playing for years to come at the Division-II level, Anderson said.

“This year we really didn’t know how much we were going to get out of him, whether he was even going to get behind the plate again,” Anderson said. “And he did. He worked his tail off to get there. He was a very, very big part of getting us in the right direction and being a leader on the field.”

Interim Tag Lifted

Anderson was wearing a broad smile on May 18. That’s the day Davie’s administration removed his status as interim coach and officially named him Davie’s head coach.

“That’s kind of a big deal,” said Anderson, who works at South Davie Middle. “I’m glad they went ahead and were able to do that without me sitting there waiting all summer and waiting to see if that was going to happen.”    

Not much was expected from the young War Eagles in 2022, and they were heading toward a nondescript season after an 11-3 home loss to West Forsyth on April 6. At that moment, they were 5-8.

But Anderson kept coaching the heck out of what he had, and the War Eagles were interesting to watch right down to the final game. They won eight of the final 11 games, including an upset of Sun Valley in the first round of the playoffs. Despite losing seven games by one or two runs, Davie managed a winning season at 13-12. And with so many coming back, there will be a lot different vibe when the 2023 season rolls around.

“I moved some people down in the lineup and moved some up,” he said. “I moved up (Ty) Goodson from JV. I made changes at second base and right field. Those decisions changed everything for everybody.

“The future is very, very bright for Davie baseball.”