WAC BASEBALL TOURNAMENT
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii pitcher Tyler Davis altered his delivery earlier this season, a change that led to a first-team all-WAC selection.
Reliever Davis discovered right angle for success
FRESNO, Calif. » Tyler Davis was not sure what his role would be on the Hawaii Rainbows pitching staff when fall practice ended.
"My role kind of evolved into long reliever, although I did start once against Texas-Arlington," said the junior transfer from Santa Barbara Community College.
WAC BASEBALL TOURNAMENT
All times Hawaii time
Where: Beiden Field, Fresno, Calif.
When: Today through Sunday
Radio: All UH games live, KKEA, 1420-AM
Web: www.wac.org (live audio and video)
» Louisiana Tech vs. Hawaii, 8 a.m.
» Nevada vs. San Jose State, noon
» Sacramento State vs. Fresno State, 4 p.m.
Davis' role solidified just about the time the Rainbows began the Western Athletic Conference schedule. A slight change in the right-hander's mechanics suddenly made him very effective. And the change came about almost by accident one day in practice.
"I was just slinging the ball around on the field. I wasn't even on the mound, but I lowered my arm angle the way I used to now and then in high school," Davis said. "Trap (UH coach Mike Trapasso) saw me and said he thought there was more movement on my ball."
Davis does not deliver his pitches from a complete sidearm position, but says the ball heads to the plate from a low three-quarters position.
The new arm angle gave him better location and better velocity, especially with his two-seam fastball that gets a lot of sink just before the plate.
"Even when I leave the two-seamer over the plate, it doesn't seem to get hit the way it used to," said Davis, who also relies on a slider and a changeup.
"Things have gone much better since then. I feel more confident with the success I've had. I feel I can shut down anyone."
Prior to the arm change, Davis had allowed 18 hits and nine earned runs in 14 innings for a 5.78 ERA. He also walked six and struck out 12.
Then, from the first Louisiana Tech game until now in 10 appearances in conference games, Davis has compiled an 0.98 ERA by allowing just three earned runs in 27 2/3 innings. During that stretch he has given up 18 hits, but walked just six while fanning 23.
"It's funny. I thought Tyler would be a starter after fall practice. I had him penciled in as our third or fourth starter," UH pitching coach Chad Konishi said. "But since the dropping down of the arm he has been very effective. Tyler is a true competitor, hates to lose and hates to do poorly.
"Tyler has found ways to be successful with his tenacity. He has been great at getting the momentum back on our side."
Davis pitched and played a lot of third base in high school, but realized he would be a pitcher in college, not a hitter. However, that hasn't stopped him from bugging the UH coaches about when they are going to put him in the lineup for an inning at shortstop.
"I don't think it will ever happen," Davis said.
He was hardly recruited out of high school. UH, UC Irvine and a couple of small schools were interested after his first season at Santa Barbara Community College, where he would start on a Saturday and be the closer on Tuesday and Thursday.
He made a recruiting trip to Hawaii in October 2004 with his father, Dewey.
"It seemed like the UH coaches wanted me more than anywhere else. I decided on Hawaii a couple weeks after my trip," Davis said. "I liked the facilities. I knew they had a bunch of fans who would come out and that was definitely something I liked."
Davis does not worry about how many innings he may have to go in a game. He goes out and pitches one inning, sees what happens and how the game is going and is ready to stay on the mound as long as necessary.
Is he superstitious? Yes.
"It is something I do before every inning," Davis said. "I always drop the ball when I get it from the third baseman. It started in high school when I accidentally dropped the ball one game and did really well."