By Jonathan Deal
Athens Bible School opponents may not know who Megan Davidson is now, but they soon will after the sophomore pitcher takes the mound in the AHSAA State Softball Tournament Friday morning.
Davidson leads a young Athens Bible softball team into the state tournament for the second consecutive season. Although she’s just a sophomore, Davidson is already one of the top pitchers in 1A softball.
“If we don’t have Megan, we don’t win,” said Athens Bible head coach Toney Vining. “That’s just the way it is. She’ll throw every game. I’d put her up against any 1A pitcher in the state.”
And Vining hopes his star pitcher will have plenty of games to throw in this weekend’s double-elimination tournament. No matter the conditions, no matter how many innings she’s already pitched, Davidson brings the same intensity to every game.
“Megan has been starting since seventh grade,” said Vining. “She wants the ball. I know there’s times when she’s pitching with blisters on her feet and she goes out there and pitches. It’s got to hurt and it shows a lot of mental toughness on her part.”
Toughness has been a theme for Vining’s team all season. Having fought off numerous injuries throughout the season, the team returns to the state tournament a year after being eliminated by three-time defending champion Ragland.
That was a relatively young team with only three seniors and no juniors. This ABS squad has even less experience with half the starting lineup consisting of eighth- and ninth-graders.
“We were young last year and we’re even younger this year,” said Vining. “They’ve progressed nicely for the year. I’m proud of all of them. We’re as prepared as we can be with eighth- and ninth-graders. We have a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of growing pains, also.”
With only one senior starter, the team’s leadership has fallen on the shoulders of players like Davidson, who take the role in stride.
“I kind of feel bad in a way because I’m not the oldest, but then again I am the pitcher,” said Davidson. “So, I feel like I kind of control the team because without me, they don’t really do anything. It’s fun being one of the leaders because I like when people come up to me and ask me what they need to do.”
In her fourth year starting for ABS, Davidson is having a career year with 277 strikeouts and a 25-12 record on the mound. At the plate, Davidson is posting a .560 batting average with four home runs.
Like ABS, the Trojans’ opponent Friday, Kinston, is a regular at the state softball tournament. The school’s last met in 2007, when Kinston went on to win the school’s first fast-pitch softball championship.
“They’re down there every year,” said Vining. “They beat us down there in 2007. We had won 40-something ballgames and were ranked No. 1 in the state. I’ll never forget, they just beat the fire out of us. They probably had 600 people there and they were hollering, ‘Overrated, overrated.’ They must have hollered that for five minutes. I can still here it now.”
First pitch between Athens Bible and Kinston is at 9 a.m. Friday at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.