During his first two seasons of college, redshirt sophomore Drake Davis got all too accustomed to waiting. In 2020, the right-hander finally made his collegiate debut. But with the season cut short, he once again can do nothing but wait to get back on the mound.
At Ralston Valley Senior High School in Colorado, Davis was highly-recruited, ranked as the No. 7 overall player in the state by Perfect Game and drafted in the 38th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies. Instead of going pro, Davis elected to play college ball at Arizona State. However, Davis suffered an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery.
"I just didn't play as a freshman and then I got hurt," Davis said. "And then having to sit out last year, I learned a lot. The biggest thing is that there is always a bigger picture."
Tommy John surgery is one of the most serious setbacks for a pitcher; recovery requires more than a year. With his freshman campaign over before it began, Davis returned home to suburban Denver, taking classes online.
Time went on and Davis began to feel he no longer had a spot to succeed in Arizona State's rotation, so he decided to transfer to Minnesota last spring. Due to NCAA regulations, this meant Davis had to redshirt during the 2019 season and watch in the dugout for another year.
On Feb. 15 against Pepperdine, Davis entered a college baseball game for the first time, pitching 2.2 innings and recording five strikeouts. The magnitude of the moment was not lost on Davis.
"It was so exciting," Davis said. "It was vindicating, but at the same time it was something I had seen in my head for so long. When it came, it wasn't a surprise because it was something I had worked for and prepared for."
Throughout the season, Davis would make five more appearances, pitching for the final time against Creighton on March 11. That game would be the final time Davis or any of his teammates took the field in 2020.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Big Ten canceled the remainder of the spring athletic season. With facilities closed and classes moved online, the majority of the baseball players returned to their hometowns. For Davis, this meant returning to Colorado, where he plans on training this spring.
"With them closing the facilities, it's tough to do anything baseball-wise in Minnesota right now," Davis said. "It's best for me to just get home, be with my family but I also have a place to train out here."
Even though the season was cut short, Davis has enjoyed his time at Minnesota so far. For him, the best memories have not come exclusively from his time on the field. Instead, what he misses most is spending time with teammates.
"It's less about the games and winning or losing," Davis said. "It was more about the Hacky Sack games and the laughs and all that. That's what I'm really missing."
Despite the frustration, Davis is focused on improving while at home. He says he is determined to make the most of the situation, working on getting in the best shape possible for when baseball returns.
"I'm in this for the long haul," Davis said. "I remind myself of that a lot when I get frustrated. This is just another challenge that I will overcome. It sucks, it absolutely sucks, but right now I'm just approaching it like it's a blessing, because it is. In the long haul it will be a blessing."