Big 12 Campus Correspondent
The career of Iowa State softball second baseman Sara Davison has been over for mere days. The first weekend of life without softball is about to begin. The first weekend without softball is a culture shock for all players, but it will in particular for Davison, who finished her career wearing ISU’s cardinal and gold 209 times, the fifth-most in school history.
“It was a privilege to play in, and start in so many games,” Davison said. “There have been many days where you are hurt or are in pain, and there is a mental block you have to get over each time to get ready to play.”
The legacy of Sara Davison’s career is tough to pinpoint a whole five days into her post-Iowa State career. Though she did not put up the gaudy offensive numbers that get players recognized as the best in a school’s, conference’s or sports history, that does not mean a career did not leave anything for future Cyclones to see or learn from.
Davison, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, was not too familiar with Iowa State before being contacted by head coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler and her staff.
“I wanted to be a part of a college town,” Davison said. “I had actually never heard of Iowa State. Once they said they were interested in me I started learning more about ISU. When I stepped on campus, I knew this was where I wanted to be.”
Davison got antiquated with Iowa State, from a softball perspective, very quickly as she started all 49 of Iowa State’s games as a freshman in 2011 at shortstop. Her debut campaign resulted in her setting two Iowa State freshman records, the first was the highest on-base percentage by a Cyclone freshman at .408 (since broken by Rachel Hartman this season at .414) and walks with 24, 10 more than any freshman in ISU history.
“I have been a good walker my entire career,” Davison noted. “Having been a catcher for most of my life, I usually know pitches that I can hit and what will and will not be called strikes. I do my best to wait for a pitch that is the best to hit. If we are in a situation where a walk is as good as a hit, I will take the walk over the potential glory of hitting it higher and further.”
Davison’s ability to get on base via walking is unprecedented in ISU history. She leaves Ames as ISU’s career leader for walks with 83. She is also the first player in ISU history to draw 20 or more walks in a season three times. To Davison, walking is not just keeping you bat on your shoulder, it must be earned.
“It all depends on the situation,” Davison observed. “Early in the count I am looking for one pitch. With one strike, I expand the zone a little. With two strikes, I am going to foul off everything that is close. I want to force the pitcher to bring something over the plate. If they don’t, I am going to walk. If they do, I am going to hit it.”
Her eye for a good pitch is reflected not just in her walk numbers, but in her ability to not strike out. Davison walked more than she struck out, 83 to the “BB” category to 62 in the “SO” department. This past season, she only struck out nine times in 159 at-bats. Her career batting average of .273 ranks 29th in school history, but her career on-base percentage of .371 puts her up to ninth in school history for OBP.
After her freshman year, Davison moved over to second base when the Cyclones brought in Lexi Slater to take over at shortstop. The duo have had a dynamic relationship that has helped them and the Cyclones succeed when in the field.
“There are no words to describe what it is like to have the connection we had on the field,” Davison noted. “We can not communicate because we know what each other are thinking and where we are going to be. It makes practices more fun, and it made softball more enjoyable.”
In her three years patrolling the right side of the infield, Davison had a .971 fielding percentage.
“Fielding has always been my favorite part of softball,” Davison stated. “Growing up, my teams would take lots of reps in the field. That is how I became the player I was.”
With the season and, in turn, her Iowa State career over, Davison was asked what she would miss the most. Her response was two words:
“Turning two. “
The double play. Davison was part of turning 30 double plays in her Iowa State career. Some were fairly simple (she had an unassisted double play at Texas Tech this season), some not so much (she was part of a “strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play that included a run-down against UNI as a sophomore).
Seeing someone other than No. 6 taking charge at second base will be a different sight for Cyclone fans to get used to. There was a comfort to knowing that regardless of the circumstances, you could always count on seeing the same effort and discipline day in and day out from Davison. At the least, ISU fans got to enjoy that 209 times over the last four years.