Davidson close to a finished product

Austin Davidson, headshot.
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Austin Davidson
Austin Davidson

The sweet stroke at the plate and the great range in the field came naturally for Austin Davidson.

That even-tempered mind-set in what can become a frustrating, if not exasperating sport? The Oxnard High senior had to master that art through experience.

For Davidson, a four-year varsity player, the key lesson was absorbed as a freshman.

Always a top-notch youth player, Davidson was elevated to the Yellowjackets’ varsity program as a 9th grader — and batted just .182 with two hits in 11 at bats.

“I had always done well on travel-ball teams, so that was a tough adjustment,” he said. “It was like, ‘What’s going on? I can do better than this.’ I found myself trying to do too much.”

Fast forward to his senior season, and Davidson clearly has it figured out. It was after that freshman campaign that Davidson realized he can’t win the game on every at bat.

“There are going to be plenty of opportunities and plenty of at bats,” he said. “I know now that if you go 3 for 10 in this game, that’s pretty good. You have to be ready at every at bat. And if you don’t get it done then, you move on to the next opportunity.”

Now if anyone presses when Davidson steps to the plate, it’s the opposing pitcher.

Davidson batted .404 as a sophomore, then truly reigned among the region’s big boppers a year ago with a sterling junior season. He hit .453 with 34 hits, 31 RBIs and 36 runs scored — all team highs — and tied for the county lead in home runs with 10.

The nifty-fielding shortstop secured his collegiate future in July when he accepted a scholarship from Pepperdine University.

That sets the stage for what shapes up as a memorable senior season, both for himself and the team. Oxnard opens play in the Southern California/Royal Invitational on Friday with a 3 p.m. game at San Marcos High.

“I can’t wait for the season to begin,” said Davidson. “Right when last season ended, I started looking forward to my senior season. Having committed to Pepperdine takes any pressure. I just want to enjoy my senior season. We’ve got a lot of talent here. I’m expecting us to do very well.”

Davidson’s maturity is such that he won’t predict any numbers for himself. He sums up the personal goals in one tidy package.

“Just keep improving,” he said. “I want to do better than last year. Baseball is a game where the big thing is to get better every year. If I can keep doing that, I’ve got a good chance of reaching my top goal, which is to become a professional.”

Oxnard coach Al Tarazon says Davidson is the ideal team cornerstone.

“He’s not just a great ball player, but a great kid,” said Tarazon. “He works hard at the game, and his teammates see that and follow him. He’s a role model for everybody else.”

A large part of Davidson’s excitement for the upcoming campaign stems from a rigorous off-season workout he conducted at Peak Performance Project — or P3 — in Santa Barbara. It’s the same regimen followed by a number of professional baseball players, including former Camarillo High and current Minnesota Twin outfielder Delmon Young.

“It’s the best workout program I’ve ever done, and I feel like I’m better prepared than I’ve ever been before,” he said. “I had a chance to meet Delmon Young and talk to him about the program. I applied and got accepted. They take the view that sports is all about explosion, with your legs, with your hips, with your arms. It’s given me a lot of confidence.”

A line-drive hitter, Davidson hit a career-high 10 home runs a year ago. Even with the added pop, Davidson isn’t looking to emulate Hank Aaron.

“I’m still a line-drive hitter,” he said. “There are times, when I’m looking to go deep. But for the most part, if I try to hit home runs I’m going to be in trouble.”

Davidson isn’t all about hitting, either.

He relishes a shortstop’s role on the field.

“It’s like being the quarterback in football,” he said with a gleam. “I know nothing happens until the pitcher makes his pitch, but when that happens I’m always in the middle of the action. I take a lot of pride of winning games with defense.”

Davidson’s assets include a well-grounded humility. He is frequently reminded that he might not even be the best shortstop at Oxnard High.

The other end of that debate is held down by his girlfriend, Demi Meza, who is the starting shortstop for the Yellowjackets’ softball team and was an all-league choice as a junior.

Meza had the higher batting average a year ago — at .464. But Davidson won the home-run contest, 10-7.

“She’s a really good player,” Davidson said with a grin. “We have little contests all the time, like who’s going to hit the most home runs. I got her last year, but it was close.

“I think we keep each other motivated.”

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