On her first day at Texas, Tiarra Davis got pulled over.
Davis, a freshman pitcher in 2013, had just said goodbye to her parents and went for a drive in Austin, her new city. But the city’s streets were tougher to navigate than Davis — who hailed from Henderson, a Class 3A school and town in East Texas with about 14,000 living there — expected. She turned the wrong way onto a one-way street and was stopped by police.
One week later, she went the wrong way on a street again. This time, she was ticketed.
“Devon (Tunning, Texas’ senior shortstop) was my roommate, so I was just like, ‘Devon, you’re driving everywhere,'” recalled Davis, also now a senior.
Things got better for Davis, though. She eventually was named the Big 12’s freshman of the year in 2014. The left-hander has gone 54-37 as a Texas pitcher and likely will finish her career ranked fifth in all-time innings pitched at UT (she’s at 561.1 and counting) and strikeouts (488). With a strong finish, she could overtake Charla Moore for fourth place on the career wins mark with 56.
Davis, who also has the second-most pitching losses in school history, is 7-8 this season. Four of those losses have come against teams ranked among the top six nationally in the USA Today/NFCA’s most recent poll.
“I think her stuff is as good as anybody’s in the country at times; it’s just been hard to get consistency with that through injuries and whatnot,” Texas coach Connie Clark said. “She’s got electric stuff. When she comes to play and she’s on, she’s really tough to handle.”
Davis was sidelined with an ankle injury her sophomore year. A career .288 hitter, she tripped over first base during a shutout win over Charlotte — “Super clumsy. Of course I’d do that,” she bemoaned — and missed 15 games. Used as both a starter and a reliever when she returned, she went 1-1 over nine appearances.
The following year, she earned all-Big 12 honors.
“I feel like my confidence is really never shaken,” said Davis, who added that her rehab in 2015 inspired her post-college plan of attending a school with a physician assistant program. “I didn’t feel pressured to do what I did (my) freshman year. I was just going out there, having fun and playing for my teammates.”
Texas (29-20, 6-8 Big 12) has been re-energized by a recent string of wins that has helped its NCAA postseason hopes. The Longhorns have shut out four straight opponents, their longest such streak since 2013. Texas has used five pitchers during its shutout span, and seven of those blank innings belong to Davis.
If the Longhorns do make the tournament, they’re not expected to host any NCAA games. That means Davis’ history with the pitching circle at McCombs Field — which began at the 2012 UIL Class 3A state tournament her junior year at Henderson — will end after this weekend’s regular-season ending series with Baylor.
“I look at the mound and I just think of all the memories that I’ve had with my teammates over my four years,” she said.
Turning two: Thanks to a solid showing in a 4-1 win over UT-Arlington on Tuesday, Texas is tied with San Diego State for the nation’s lead in double plays. The Longhorns and Aztecs have both turned 52 so far.
— Texas Baseball (@TexasBaseball) May 3, 2017
Don’t expect shortstop David Hamilton and second baseman Bret Boswell to talk much about that, though.
The soft-spoken Hamilton met the Austin media for the first time on Tuesday, and he estimated the three-minute Q&A was the most he’s spoken in a while. David Pierce joked that he gets five words out of Hamilton each week; Boswell guessed that number was closer to seven. Hamilton, though, boasts a .972 fielding percentage and only seven errors, so first baseman Kacy Clemens surmised that “he lets his leather show his personality.”
Boswell doesn’t describe himself as much of a talker, either. Texas ranks fourth in the NCAA with its .983 fielding percentage, so that lack of communication in the middle of the infield hasn’t hurt the Longhorns.
“Right when we look at each other, we know what’s going to happen,” Boswell said. “It really is kind of shocking because I feel like a double-play duo up the middle, you’d think people would need to talk a lot more. We really don’t say much, and it’s worked really well for us.”
This weekend, Texas (31-16, 9-8) will play three games at TCU (32-11; 12-6). Texas was ranked 24th and 25th in this week’s D1Baseball.com and Baseball America rankings. TCU checked in at ninth and seventh, respectively.