Yusef Davis Gets His Chance

Written by Bob on June 18th, 2016
Yusef Davis Jr., of Long Beach, Calif., was selected second-team, all-tournament at the 2016 USA Softball Men’s Invitational Fastpitch Tournament in Ashland, Ohio, June 11-12. Courtesy Photo

Yusef Davis Jr., of Long Beach, Calif., was selected second-team, all-tournament at the 2016 USA Softball Men’s Invitational Fastpitch Tournament in Ashland, Ohio, June 11-12. Courtesy Photo

LONG BEACH, Calif. – All Yusef Davis Jr. wanted was a chance. He got it and he made the most of it.

Davis heard about the USA Softball Men’s Invitational Fastpitch Tournament being held June 11-12. It was an opportunity for U.S. players to be evaluated by the USA men’s coaching staff and the USA national team selection committee.

It was an opportunity Davis couldn’t pass up. If he played well and impressed the evaluators, it just might earn him an invite to a USA national team tryout camp.

FOOTING THE BILL

That was all it took for the 21 year old Davis to pay his own airfare to Ashland, Ohio where the tournament was being held.

The experience?

“It was incredible,” said Davis, who grew up playing soccer, football, basketball and baseball in youth and high school. “I was nervous. I knew a lot of talent would be there. I wanted to play against that talent and be seen.”

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Davis was more than just seen. When the tournament ended, he was selected second-team, all-tournament.

SPEED BURNER

He played for J & B Painting of Agoura Hills, Calif., managed and sponsored by Robert Berger, and ranked No. 7, by the International Softball Congress.

“He hit between .350 and .400,” said Berger. “And I think he stole about six bases and was only caught once. He was probably the fastest guy there. He has a lot of tools and a lot of promise.”

Players can learn to hit. They can learn to field. But speed? Hard to teach. Davis’s speed soon caught the attention of USA Head Coach, Denny Bruckert.

“He is so fast, all he has to do is bounce the ball and he’s on base,” said Bruckert.

DREAMING RED, WHITE AND BLUE

The tournament drew eight teams with the A1 Bombers defeating the Peligro Gremlins for the title. On the team rosters, were many talented young players. All wanting to catch the eye of the evaluators.

“This tournament is important for a player to be seen and evaluated so they have a chance of making the identified athlete pool,” Bruckert said in a press release. “If a player is selected to be part of the pool, that player has the chance to be invited to January’s Men’s National Team Selection Camp, where the roster for the USA Softball Men’s National Team will be chosen.”

But Davis realizes he must elevate his game for a shot on the national team, and to play at the Open level. But he’s relishing the opportunity.

SLAPPING FOR THE GREMLINS

And it appears he will have it. During the tournament, he says the Gremlins extended an offer to play with them this season. Exactly the incentive he needed.

“It’s definitely motivated me to improve,” said Davis, who bats and throws left-handed. And with his speed, he knows that bouncing the ball – as Bruckert said – has to be a top priority. “I have to improve my slapping to get better at hitting the (top) caliber pitching.”

HIGH ON HIS YOUNG STAR

Davis plays for Those Guys of Long Beach managed by Paul Castillo, who helped bring Davis into to fastpitch about three years a go. Castillo believes that Davis has the tools to succeed at the highest level.

“He’s fast, has a good arm and he listens, he wants to learn,” Castillo said. “I want him to bunt and slap more. When he hits the gaps, it’s extra bases; a single is a double with his speed. He has all the tools, he just needs a chance.”

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