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March 1, 2013

Marcus Davis enjoying life as a lefty in Dick Howser



When Florida State assistant coach Mike Martin Jr. was recruiting Marcus Davis from Walters State Community College in Tennessee, the two talked about the program's tradition, what Davis' role would be and how Martin Jr. and the rest of the staff could prepare Davis for the next level.

Inadvertently, Martin Jr. failed to mention what could have potentially been his biggest recruiting tool for the powerful left-handed hitter, which was Dick Howser Stadium's right field fence.

Villanova vs. Florida State
When: Fri. 4:30 p.m. ET, Sat. 2 p.m. ET,
Sun. 1 p.m. ET
Records: FSU 7-0, Villanova 1-3
Where: Dick Howser Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.
TV: ESPN3.com (Fri. and Sat. only)
Despite an additional 30-foot screen added on to the top, the right field wall is just 320 feet from home plate and often gives up a homerun or two that wouldn't get out in other parks.

Davis said his junior college coach mentioned the wall to him, but he didn't fully grasp how close in it was until he arrived in Tallahassee for orientation.

"It was definitely exciting," Davis said of when he first saw the wall. "I'd heard stories about it, but that fence is still pretty high even though it's kind of short. It's going to take some away too. I mean guys like Sherman (Johnson) and (James) Ramsey probably hit that screen with balls that would go out in other parks, but you also get the cheap ones too so I guess it's kind of a double-edged sword so to speak."

So far so good for Davis and the screen in right. He leads the team with four homeruns, all of which were to right field. Not many of them would have been called cheap.

"I told him there's a lot of money made off that screen so he just needs to keep doing what he's doing," Martin Jr. joked.

Davis looks the part of a power hitter with towering home runs and hard hit line drives. He is even slugging like a bash brother with an absurd slugging percentage of 1.136.

But don't expect to show up to the stadium and see the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Cincinnati, Ohio native putting on a show in pregame batting practice.

Davis rarely goes for the long ball in the cage, instead he usually shoots line drives to the opposite field. Teammates John Sansone and Giovanny Alfonzo both said they think the first time they saw Davis actually leave the yard was in his first at-bat on Opening Day against Rhode Island.

"Fall and spring you kind of watched him work opposite field with line drives," Alfonzo said. "He always hit hard line drives, but I don't think I'd seen him hit a ball out of the park until that first at bat he had in the season. Since then it's not surprising anymore because we know what he can do, so it's fun to watch."

Martin Jr. said Davis' style at the plate will go a long way for him at the college level and moving forward.

"He's got a very professional approach," Martin Jr. said. "He understands that sluggers come and go, hitters stick around. He can hit and that's what he works on, hitting, not slugging."

In addition to the homers, Davis is also tied for the team lead with three doubles and nine runs driven, to go with a team-high .455 batting average.

Head coach Mike Martin said Davis' success is a product of his even approach to each and every pitch he sees.

"He doesn't go up there trying to do too much," Martin said. "He just goes up there wanting to get a good swing and hit the ball hard. If the pitcher makes the wrong pitch, he has a tendency to do damage with it and that's what's impressed me so much with him."

Davis almost didn't get the chance to impress Martin. While he was lighting things up as a sophomore at Walters State with a .450 average, 16 homeruns and 62 RBI, Davis was actually committed to the University of Florida.

Once Devon Travis and Jayce Boyd informed the FSU coaches they would sign pro contracts and not return for their senior seasons, Martin Jr. put the full-court press on for Davis, who began his collegiate career at LSU before heading to Tennessee.

"It was crucial," Martin Jr. said of adding Davis to the 2012 class. "We had a couple things happen in the draft and had some (scholarship) money open up and obviously a spot where there's a legitimate need. At one time he was just a want and then he became a legitimate need so I'm glad it worked out."

Davis is also glad things worked out for him to end up in Tallahassee. After hitting three home runs and two doubles in four games last week against Jacksonville and South Florida, Davis was named Co-ACC Player of the Week and one of six Louisville Slugger National Players of the Week.

"I don't really know what was the deciding factor, but I just felt better here to be honest," Davis said. "So far I'm happy with the result. I'm glad to be around these guys, glad to be playing for these coaches and just excited to get better everyday."



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