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By JOHN KOVACH



Published: Fri, July 12, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



By JOHN KOVACH

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

POLAND -- Originally, Shane Davis never wanted to be a catcher.

So then how did the recent Poland High graduate become one?

Expediency.

At the age of 9, in his first tryout for an organized baseball team, Davis brought with him a piece of equipment with him that none of the other players had.

"I started [catching] when I was 9 in the minor league. In fact, I didn't want to be a catcher but I was the only one on my team that had a [protective] cup, so I had to be the catcher. I was kind of forced," said Davis.

But fate would take a turn in his favor.

"I stayed with it after that. I loved it. There is nothing I would rather do. I like the fact that I'm always in on every play. You don't have to wait three or four innings to be involved in a play. I am part of the action, every pitch."

Along the way, Davis also happened to become a very good hitter.

In fact, he batted a lofty .562 this season as a senior with the Poland team, and earned a baseball scholarship to Eastern Michigan University.

He also was selected as the Vindicator Baseball Player of the Year.

Got batting tips from dad

Davis (5-10, 185), who also had 31 RBIs, five homers and seven doubles this year, credits his father for helping him to develop his swing.

"My father, Jeff, taught me the basic fundamentals of batting and catching. Learning to do it the right way [has helped]," said Davis, whose father played baseball for Boardman High and Bowling Green.

"He made me realize that if you concentrate on the fundamentals, everything will click."

The key element to Davis' swing is a short stride that helps him retain control of the bat, and not be fooled by off-speed pitches and breaking stuff.

He struck out only two times and drew 17 walks.

"I have a really short stride. As a matter of fact, I probably don't stride. I just pick it [my foot] up and put it back down where it was. That helps me to retain control of my swing," said Davis.

As a result, "I don't strike out too much; I just put the ball in play somewhere.

"When you put it in play, you have a chance to get a hit."

Spotted by EMU at tourney

A three-year starter for Poland under coach Steve Rohan, Davis also is a veteran summer sandlot player which helped to open the door to Eastern Michigan.

"They [EMU] saw me play in the Connie Mack Tournament last summer and they contacted me," said Davis, who was in his fourth straight season in the Class B League, after playing two years in the Little B League.

Five of those six regular seasons were spent on the WW Heating team.

This summer, he is in his first season in the Class AA League with the Jolly Joe's team.

No football -- temporarily

Although Davis also played football for Poland, he will bypass the sport in college -- but only temporarily.

"I am just going to play baseball, but I am leaning toward being a football coach," said Davis, who was a three-year letterman at Poland as a center, quarterback and wide receiver.

The son of Kim Davis also has another interest. "I am a second degree black belt in kenpo karate and a one-time state and national karate champion as well as a Junior Olympic qualifier," said Shane.

Davis had 2.8 grade-point average, and is undecided about his academic major, "but I am leaning toward a history major and probably then coach after I graduate," he said.

Davis likes the fact that Eastern Michigan's baseball field is on campus.

"You don't have to do any traveling around. It's next to Ann Arbor and there are a lot of college kids around. It seemed like a good place to be," said Davis, who will leave for EMU on Aug. 31.

He expects Eastern Michigan "will have a young team. They recruited me as a catcher. Roger Coryell is the coach that recruited me, probably to catch or DH."




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