Prep Rally | Distractions don't dent Manatee ace Weston Davis

jlembo@bradenton.comMarch 21, 2014 

Manatee High School's Weston Davis pitches against Pine Crest during the Sarasota Baseball Classic at Twin Lakes Park Monday. PAUL VIDELA/Bradenton Herald

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BRADENTON

Wherever Weston Davis throws, radar guns seem to follow.

The Manatee senior is the pied piper of prep phenoms, a magnet for the guys who wear collared shirts with the logo of a major league team stitched on the front.

While warming up for last week's game at Palmetto, Davis uncorked fastballs and change-ups while a bunch of scouts watched from the parking lot, scribbling notes before making their way to the bleachers, where they scrutinized and clocked one pitch after another.

Pitching is hard enough. Add in the challenge of every half inning possibly making or breaking your future and ratchet it up to difficult. Add in the fact that we're talking about a kid who is still in the process of earning a high school diploma, and the task sounds downright daunting.

Davis, however, has learned to accept it, even thrive on it. That's what happened Tuesday, when a trio of scouts -- one of whom attached a radar gun to the backstop -- watched Davis four-hit Riverview in an 8-2 win that gave Manatee the top seed in next months's Class 8A-District 8 tournament.

"Coming from the fall and the summer with my travel team, the Scorpions, they (the scouts) were always there," Davis said. "As a pitcher, you have to block everything out. You can't worry about them. You just have to go out there and do your job, because that mound's like my home."

No one in sports has to learn to let go as much as pitchers. Once the ball leaves their hands, they've abandoned all control of what happens next -- barring a comebacker.

It's a lesson Davis has learned well during his last two outings. He was on the losing end at Palmetto, where Tigers starter Tyler Bench threw a no-hitter in a 1-0 win; and he allowed a pair of unearned runs in the first inning against the Rams.

He takes the same mindset when it comes to the scouts, whose opinions will go a long way toward dictating whether Davis plays college ball at the University of Florida or signs a pro contract in the wake of the June draft.

"It's exciting. It puts a little smile on your face," Davis said. "But you've got to focus on what you're doing. You can't let it get to you. You can't think, 'OK, I've got to overthrow here for the radar guns.' You can't do that.

"My mom actually taught me this: People who would (compete) in the Olympics, they would visualize themselves before a game of what they're going to do. When I'm in the locker room, I visualize myself pitching out here."

The returns have been good. Davis is 4-1 with a 0.21 ERA and has allowed one earned run against district foes in 27 innings.

He has proven his mettle as a big-game pitcher this spring.

Much to Davis' delight, the right people have been watching.

John Lembo, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow him on Twitter @JohnLembo1878.

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