Davidson Baseball’s Cinderella Story
DAVIDSON, NC — It’s the biggest sporting success for Davidson College since a skinny kid from Charlotte Christian named Steph Curry led them to the NCAA basketball Elite Eight nine years ago.
The Wildcat baseball team is going where they’ve never gone before, as the most unlikely of underdogs.
Davidson College has been playing baseball for 115 years. This is the first time the Wildcats have been to the NCAA tournament!
And they’re making the most of it, knocking off #2 national seed UNC, twice, on the way to winning the Chapel Hill Regional.
“We’re playing teams that are like supposed to just crush us,” says senior pitcher Cody White. “And so we’re not supposed to win, so let’s just go out and just have some fun, and just do our thing. Ended up really paying off.”
The Cats came in with the highest earned run average in the regional, the lowest batting average and the worst record of the four teams.
They never trailed, not once, in the three wins.
Now they’re just the second NCAA 4-seed to sweep a regional, and just the sixth to move on. Two wins away from a berth in the College World Series.
Sophomore third baseman Eric Jones from South Meck High is one of three Davidson players from the Charlotte area. He says the cats are playing with house money.
“We’re going to stay loose,” says Jones. “We’re going to keep having fun. For me, I’ve been saying it, it’s just I’m out here playing a game with my best friends. You know I look around the infield, I’ve got my best friends standing out there with me.”
This is Coach Dick Cooke’s 27th season at Davidson.
He was involved in a near-fatal car accident with a drunk driver in I-77 in 2012; an accident that left him with a punctured lung, bleeding on the brain, cracked ribs and a tibia fractured in four places.
His team starts only three scholarship players. His program is a tight-knit family.
“There were former players in tears the other night, according to my wife,” says Cooke. “And, you know, that’s something that happens when you get here early on.”
It is a long way from Wilson Field in Davidson, North Carolina to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. And this is not something that the Wildcats were even thinking about before the season started. But, now, they are one step away.
“It’d be just ridiculous to go to Omaha,” says White. “And it’d be quite a way to end like the college career like for us seniors.”
“In jest, yeah, we talk about yeah we’re going to Omaha,” says Jones. “But it’s become real very quickly.”
Pitcher Durin O’Linger pitched the Cats to a win over the Heels in the first game of the regional, then came in to close out the finale.
Alec Acosta had one career home run before the Atlantic Ten Conference Tournament. A tournament Davidson had to fight out of the loser’s bracket to win. He hit five in St. Louis!
Will Robertson has reached base in 54 consecutive games. He also gunned down the would-be tying run at the plate in the 9th inning Sunday night.
Everyone on the team is contributing to this magical run.
Davidson will face a Texas A&M team this is appearing in the school’s third consecutive super regional. This is the 33rd NCAA appearance for the Aggies, who have been to five College World Series.
But the Wildcats are a team that doesn’t seem to know they are not supposed to be here. And one that could continue to shock the college baseball world.
“When we go out there on Friday, they’re not going to be just happy to be there,” says Coach Cooke. “And that’s what I like about them.”
The Wildcats take on Texas A&M in game one in the best-of-three super regional Friday afternoon at 3:00 in College Station, Texas. ESPN2 will televise the contest.
It’s a true David vs. Goliath match-up. Davidson has an enrollment of almost 2,000 students. A&M more than 66,000!