In his first start of the year on the mound, Davenport helped the Raiders to their third straight victory by tossing his first career no-hitter in a 11-0 victory over Douglas Byrd in five innings. Davenport had six strikeouts and issued two base on balls in the win.
“It was a great feeling to do it on this level,” Davenport said. “My changeup was working pretty good. Ryan Jenkins made four big plays at second base on some hard hit balls, and I had a couple up the middle hit to me. It’s a little bit of luck that comes with throwing one, but to throw a no-hitter in your first start is icing on the cake.”
Davenport tore his labrum while playing soccer as a junior which required surgery. The coaching staff has been slowly working Davenport back into the pitching rotation appearing in relief in several games this year including picking up the save in a 4-3 victory over South View on March 9.
Norton said he wants Davenport to get his arm strength back and is keeping him on a pitch count against Douglas Byrd, which he nailed right on the nose.
“Going into the game against Douglas Byrd, the goal was for him to throw 65 pitches in his first outing,” Norton said. “He threw five innings and throws 65 pitches, and hit it right on the head. It worked out perfectly, and we knew Dylan has the talent to be a starter. I told him he is just another arm in our arsenal.”
But in the batters’ box is where Davenport has been doing most of the damage against the opponents lately.
Davenport has slugged five of the team’s eight home runs and all of his homers have come in the last six games. His recent tear at the plate has improved his batting average of .393 on the year to go along with 11 runs batted in.
“All five of those home runs have been solo shots, and I’m just more relaxed at the plate,” Davenport said. “I have settled down and allowed the ball to come to me. I’m seeing the ball come out of the pitcher hands better, and I’m locating the ball better. I’m just trying to take my hands to the ball and let the (bat) barrel follow my hands. It feels good to be in this type of groove and the ball does look like a beach ball. You go up there, swing the stick and the ball is flying out of the park.”
Davenport’s production recently is a stark contrast to his start, when he struck out his first six times at the plate, which was something he admitted he did too much of last year.
According to Norton, Davenport began the season doing some things at the plate which got him in trouble last year, but is working hard to correct these mistakes.
“Last year, and even the early part of this year, he was gripping the bat to death,” Norton said. “He has changed his batting stance, and is a little more straight up in his stance. He is letting the ball travel a little deeper to the plate. Dylan has always had a good pop in his bat.”
Davenport’s other role on the team is as the starting shortstop. Davenport said it is a position he loves playing, and Norton added Davenport brings stability to the middle of Richmond’s infield.
“He is as sure-handed as a player there is, and he is going to get to the balls that he can get to,” Norton said. “He has got a strong arm, but his biggest asset is he is such a smart player. He knows the game very well. What he lacks in lateral speed, he makes up with his knowledge of the game. A lot of times he can does stuff that he knows what we’re talking about.”
Davenport said his goal after graduation is to attend North Carolina State University and major in mechanical engineering. However, if he can continue his steady pace then he may have to rethink his future.
“Right now, I don’t have any plans plays to play baseball in college, but that doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t change,” he said.
n Contact sports reporter Corey Davis at 997-3111, ext. 44; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org