June 19, 2009
Davis Lee and Nick Durrah are changing before their coaches eyes.
This past season, Lee and Durrah played key roles for the New Hope High and Columbus High baseball teams, respectively.
Those roles figure to be even bigger next year when Lee and Durrah dress out for their senior and junior baseball seasons, respectively.
Lee and Durrah showed Thursday that the work they''re doing this month with their Dizzy Dean team is helping them prepare for their new roles.
Lee had three hits and three RBIs and Durrah had two hits, including a home run, in game one and pitched well in game two of a doubleheader at Trojan Field.
New Hope won game one 12-4 before Columbus used an eight-run fifth inning to rally for a 9-5 victory in game two.
Lee, who also is a member of the New Hope High boys basketball team, is splitting his time this month between basketball and baseball. On Mondays, he typically plays two games with the New Hope High basketball team in a summer league at Columbus High. He then changes out of his basketball jersey and dons his baseball gear and joins the baseball team, usually in time for some action in game two of that day''s doubleheader.
Lee also has to practice Sunday and Wednesday nights with the basketball team, so he hasn''t had much time to relax in the "offseason."
"I am just trying to do the best I can and make as big an impact as I can," Lee said. "I feel I have gotten a lot better. I am more confident in myself because I am relaxed. I am pretty confident (to carry that over to the high school season)."
Chris Ball, who coaches New Hope''s Dizzy Dean baseball team, said Lee''s work this month is paying off. He said he sees a more confident and more relaxed player on the field who could emerge as a bigger contributor on the diamond next season.
"He came off the basketball court this spring and didn''t have the reps everybody else did," Ball said. "The thing about Davis is he puts more pressure on himself than anybody else. It is great to coach a kid like that because you know he is going to give his all."
Ball said Lee is learning how to shake off a bad at-bat or a mistake and not let it affect his next chance. That maturity will serve him well next season when he could play a key role in the outfield for the Trojans.
First, though, Lee will be a key player for New Hope High boys basketball coach Robert Byrd.
Ball said Lee is an "unbelievable" player in both sports, and he encourages him to continue to play both. He said Lee''s ability to juggle both sports shows his commitment to his teammates and proves he is dedicated to being the best he can be.
"I think Davis is going to have an unbelievable senior season," Ball said. "He is going to raise a lot of eyebrows. Everyone talks about Davis Lee being a good basketball player. I am not saying this because I am a baseball coach. He is a good basketball player, but I think he can be a sleeper in the county. He is really impressive."
Columbus High baseball Jeff Cook, whose team improved to 11-1, feels the same way about Durrah. He said the right-handed hitter and left-handed thrower, who will play this month on the district''s State Games baseball team, is the team''s most talented player, and that he is excited to see him realize his potential.
"Confidence wise he has just grown leaps and bounds," Cook said.
Durrah smacked his fourth home run in 12 games in the fifth inning of game one. Cook said all of the home runs have been "bombs," which is a reflection of how much Durrah has developed.
"He is really trying to work hard," Cook said. "He has really matured since his freshman year. His upside is really big, and he is going to have a bright future."
Durrah knows he doesn''t have to hit a home run every at-bat. He realizes, though, that his teammates will expect more from him in 2010, and he is going to be happy to oblige.
"I have improved on hitting a lot since my freshman year," Durrah said. "It makes me feel good (that my teammates have confidence in me). I like taking big responsibilities and doing better than I am supposed to do."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
1. Prescott making quick impression in Cowboys' camp LOCAL SPORTS
2. Noxubee County takes positives from season-opening loss HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Former Starkville High standout Davis suffers knee injury COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Cooke's diversity makes MSU special teams better COLLEGE SPORTS