Although Davis was on the varsity team for four seasons, she spent time pitching her sophomore year with the junior varsity team, learning what it would take to be the main pitcher for the Lady Warriors.
“Tori got in 25 games pitching JV,” Cherokee County coach Travis Barnes said. “During the off-season between her sophomore and junior years, she knew the team was hers. She went to work and stepped in and filled Lauren’s shoes very well.”
And after Millsaps graduated and later had her jersey retired, Davis took over the past two seasons without missing a step. She was the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 4A player of the year her junior year, winning 39 games. She received the same honor her senior year as well. The Lady Warriors went to the state tournament both years.
Davis won 40 games this past season with a 0.47 ERA and 447 strikeouts. She helped Cherokee County tie for fifth at the 4A state tournament. She is The Anniston Star’s All-Area softball player of the year.
“It was a big season for the four seniors,” Davis said. “We wanted to go further than we did, but when you look back, you’re not going to remember what you did as much as that bond you built with your team. We came together and worked together all the time, but we had fun together.”
She gives the credit for her success to her teammates.
“I think what was working for me were my teammates behind me,” she said. “I had a great defense behind me the entire season. They did a good job, and we couldn’t have had the season we had without them. Pitching-wise, the biggest part was having confidence in them.”
Barnes, who has coached at the high school and colleges levels the past 12 years, said Davis’ success comes from her mental abilities.
“Physically, she’s right up there at the top,” he said. “I’ve seen a couple college pitchers that have had more speed, movement and all-around better pitches, but speaking mentally, she’s the mentally toughest person I’ve ever seen.”
Although nearly all of Davis’ attention went to pitching, she still managed to bat .379 with seven home runs and a team-high 54 RBIs.
“The biggest thing at the plate is trying to hit the ball, but you try to let everything go and think about the bat hitting the ball. That’s what I did all season,” Davis said. “But when you focus on pitching a lot, hitting doesn’t really come as easily. That was one of my problems this year, but I tried to do it for the team every game.”
While Millsaps, Davis’ predecessor, is playing at Shorter College, Davis will continue her career at North Alabama. Barnes said that considering Davis’ work ethic, he doesn’t see anything but success in her future.
“UNA is going to have four or five pitchers on their staff, so as far as pitching time, I’m not sure how much she’ll get, but I know the competition between pitchers will drive her to work,” he said. “As a freshman she may see limited time, but as a sophomore or junior she should be very successful at UNA.
“She really knows how to pitch. That’s all you can say.”
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star.