Swing Away: Alcorn State’s Marcus Davis

By Chuck Curti
Updated: February 28, 2007

PIKESVILLE, Md.– Check out these numbers: A .424 batting average, good for seventh in NCAA Division I last season. 1.49 RBIs per game, first in Division I.

12 triples, and an average of 0.28 per game, both tops in Division I. .847 slugging percentage, tied for second, and 1.30 runs per game, seventh in the country.

With those figures, it’s no wonder Alcorn State senior outfielder Marcus Davis made the Wallace Watch List for national player of the year and was named the SWAC’s Preseason Player of The Year. With those figures, there certainly doesn’t seem to be much room for improvement.

Not so fast, said Davis. “There’s a couple of things I can improve on. I need to be more patient at the plate. I chase bad pitches some times. I’m an aggressive hitter, but maybe overly aggressive.”

In other words, Davis needs to cut down on his strikeouts. “If he cuts down on his strikeouts … with men on base … there’s no telling what he could do,” said Alcorn State coach Willie “Rat” McGowan, who has coached the Braves for more than three decades.

“I probably could have won a couple more games last year,” added Davis. Alcorn posted 26 victories in 2006 and advanced to the SWAC championship, where it lost to Prairie View A&M, 3-2. Davis was shut down in the title game, scoring no runs and driving in none for the Braves.

So, instead of going to the NCAA Tournament, Alcorn was forced to watch Prairie View A&M earn that honor. That’s prompted Davis to work harder than ever at becoming a more complete player. At the same time, he’s not going to let expectations weigh him down.

“I want to go out with a bang and have the most fun I can have,” said Davis, a computer science major who will complete his degree some time next year. “I’m taking a relaxed approach. It’s baseball. It’s a game. I’m going to have as much fun as I can.”

Besides being more patient at the plate, Davis is working on defense, hitting inside pitches and baserunning. McGowan said Davis’ speed is good, but he and the coaches are working on baserunning strategy and being smarter on the basepaths.

Davis recognizes the benefits of becoming more of a threat to run. “Speed can kill. If you have speed, you can make things happen.”

Heading into Wednesday’s game against Bellhaven, Alcorn is 3-3, winning its last three via sweep of Arkansas Pine Bluff over the weekend. Davis has hit two homers thus far, and his baserunning helped manufacture a couple runs in the sweep of UAPB.

“We’ve got a good team,” said Davis. “We still have a lot of stuff to put together. We need to get our pitching and hitting going at the same time. Overall, I think we should be better than last year.”

And speaking of putting pitching and hitting together, that’s something Davis could be doing quite literally this season. McGowan is trying Davis on the mound with the idea of using him as a closer.

Davis was a closer in junior college at East Central (Miss.) Community College before coming to Alcorn State. He has a fastball that gets into the low 90s — he said he has topped out at 94 — a change up and curveball, which he calls his “out” pitch.

Whatever help Alcorn State gets from Davis the pitcher will be a bonus. It will be his offense that is counted on most, and Davis said he is proud that his offense made him one of four players from HBCUs on the Wallace Watch List.

“It’s a real good honor. Black college baseball is kind of overlooked. But there are some pretty good athletes down here. They just need to get their shot.”

The scouts are watching, and Davis might just be the next player from an HBCU to get his shot at the pros. Especially if he can improve his already eye-popping numbers.