WHSV Sports Presents: Purple & Gold
His dad took a different path in life, but for Harrisonburg Turks pitcher Davis Kirkpatrick, there is nothing better than having him in the stands.
A multi-sport athlete himself, Donnie Kirkpatrick took a road of football. In 2017, he coached one of the greatest offenses James Madison has ever assembled. It finished in the top three in the country in scoring, yards-per-game and, of course, won a national championship.
This summer, Davis is playing in his parents' new hometown of Harrisonburg. With a 1.66 earned run average, he's one of the top pitchers in the Turks' bullpen.
“I'm just trying to go out there and compete one pitch at a time, stay in the present moment and just really compete and attack do the best I can for the Turks and put us in position to win.” Davis said.
Each night, Donnie and Misty, Davis's mom, come to the ballpark to watch him play.
“It is a special time,” said Donnie. “It doesn't last forever and I know it;s made his mother very happy. She's (Misty) been in a much better mood, cooked a lot more homemade meals since he's been there so that's nice for all of us.
Davis plays his college baseball at East Carolina, the school his dad spent 11 years coaching football.
“He grew up such an East Carolina Pirates fan,” Donnie added. “They have a tremendous program there, tremendous facility and just fell in love with East Carolina and couldn't see himself going anywhere else.”
As a quarterback at D.H. Conley in Greenville, Davis threw for more than 1,400 yards his senior year. But, his heart was always on the hill.
“I love the game of football. I miss it. When it came time to decide what I wanted to do for my career, I felt like baseball was the best option for me,” he said. “I feel like I was better at baseball.”
“As a football coach, with him playing football it was going to be harder I thought to go see him play as much,” said Donnie, who admitted he always knew baseball had his son's heart. “I thought summer, if there is down time as a college coach it's in the summer. So, I thought this will work out good and it really did for most of his career.”
While Donnie didn't get to watch, Davis played as much as he wanted this spring. He's spending his summer catching most of his pitches. Davis is also interning with JMU football, the team he watched win the FCS National Championship in January.
“It was a great all-around experience and I was really happy for him,” said Davis. “We always joke around how, when it comes to championships, we're always cursed. We kind of joked after he won that the curse was lifted and everything was going to be good from here on out.”
“Now we're hoping we get a chance to go watch him go to Omaha and play for a national championship,” said Donnie. “Two years ago, they were 90-feet away against Texas Tech. This year they had a little bit of a down year, but hopefully they'll bounce back strong and I don't think anything would be better than to return that visit and see him play in a national championship.”
Davis often cheers for the Dukes and Donnie is a big Pirates fan, too.
But on September 2nd, their worlds collide when JMU football plays in Greenville.
Only one thing is for sure: "He'll be in purple and gold,” a laughing Donnie said.