The adjoining softball and lacrosse fields on Orange High School’s campus are separated by the left-field fence.
Despite the proximity, the teams went about their practices unaware of the other for years. That was before Mia Davidson, now a junior, arrived. When the Panthers slugging catcher took her turns at batting practice, the lacrosse players found themselves running for cover. Her power rained a hail of softballs down on them.
“We’ve had to alter the time when she hits,” said Eddie Davidson, Mia’s father and the Panthers coach.
Davidson has blasted 15 home runs in 20 games for the Panthers (19-1) this season and is threatening the N.C. High School Athletic Association season record of 19. She has six regular-season games and the playoffs remaining. The career record of 42 is a foregone conclusion: Mia has 38 and all of next year. She hit 12 as a freshman and 11 as a sophomore.
Davidson’s power is obvious and what fans want to see, but her game is mature enough to stick to her hitting strategy. It’s also helps her block out swinging for the record.
“I focus on getting a hit that will help my team,” Mia said. “You have to relax and do what you were taught to hit the ball, and then the home runs will come.”
Some of them, including her 14th in an April 15 5-4 win over Northwood, can be described as Babe Ruthian.
Davidson’s homer in the third inning broke up 9 1/3 straight innings of no-hit ball from Northwood’s Anna Jasper. Two days earlier the UNC Pembroke-bound Jasper had no-hit Orange in a 3-0 win.
Davidson’s moonshot soared high above the scoreboard that stands behind the left-field fence at 200 feet as fans tilted their necks back to follow the towering flight. Even Mia’s older sister Montana Davidson, the Panthers senior shortstop, was stunned: “That was a shot!”
Darkness prevented estimating if the home run was a 300-footer, but it’s a safe guess. Montana said last year in a travel game Mia cleared a 200-foot fence on a softball field and the ball soared over the back of an adjoining baseball field fence that was later marked off as 100 feet away.
If you consider most high school softball home runs clear the fence by 5 to 10 feet, the correlation of Davidson’s blast to a Major League Baseball game would be an upper-deck homer.
Although such power makes Mia the better-known name among the siblings, their bond is so tight they are both committed to Mississippi State.
“We’ve always been there for each other – through slumps, the good and the bad,” Montana said. “We’re competitive with each other and push each other to get better.”
In fact, Montana committed to Mississippi State first and then Mia followed. The SEC school has advanced to the NCAA Tournament the last four years.
“She teaches me a lot about playing the game,” Mia said. “She tells me to play all out and have no regrets. Sometimes I hurry my throws and she has to tell me to calm down.”
It was Montana, though, who followed her younger sister into softball. At a young age, Montana was involved in cheerleading, including traveling to competitions. Mia, though, loved playing catch with her father, who had played baseball at Orange High, as early as age 2.
Mia started out on Hillsborough youth baseball teams. When she was 8 and playing in a game at Fuquay-Varina, a fan spotted Mia’s talent and advised Eddie to take advantage of her potential in softball. Once Mia excelled at softball, Montana grew interested.
“I fell in love with softball right away,” Montana said. “I gave up cheerleading.”
Eddie began coaching the girls’ travel ball teams. He was a Panthers assistant coach until he was named the head coach this season.
“It’s going to be to be tough playing here without her next year,” Mia said. “But I’ll adjust and then we’ll be playing together at Mississippi State.”