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Softball: From pitching family, Davenport blazing own trail on diamond

CLIFF GRASSMICK
Recent Monarch High graduate Joni Davenport, front, plays first base for the Colorado Stars this summer, and will head to Trinidad State Junior College in the fall.

LONGMONT — Joni Davenport comes from a softball pitching family.

Her two older sisters — Jessica and Ali, a former Centaurus star who played at Regis University — pitched. And Davenport’s father, Randy Davenport, was a pitcher for 30 years and pitched for Springers, the Longmont team that won the Class A Amateur Softball Association Men’s National Fast Pitch championship in 1991.

Despite her family’s pitching history, Davenport has blazed her own path through the sport of softball as a position player.

“I just kind of wanted to go off and do my own thing,” Davenport said Saturday. “Both my sisters were pitchers but I really liked first (base) a lot.”

Davenport played shortstop and hit .623 as a senior at Monarch High School last fall. She currently plays first base and some outfield for Dan Burns’ Colorado Stars squad, a traveling club team that is taking part in the Colorado Premier Girls Fastpitch National Qualifier at Garden Acres Park this weekend.

Starting at age 7, Joni Davenport pitched until she was 12. But as her affinity for swinging the bat grew, she began to gravitate further back in the infield. She has played all over, but given the choice of where to play, she would play first base.

“As a lefty, it’s a good lefty position,” Davenport said.

For Randy Davenport, his daughter’s choice to give up pitching for first base was a welcome one.

“She came to me one day and said, ‘You know, I don’t think I want to pitch anymore. I want be the best hitter in the family,'” Randy Davenport said. “She’s become that.”

Randy Davenport knows how to teach pitching but says he couldn’t hit the floor if he fell out of bed. He takes no credit for his daughter’s hitting talents.

“I know nothing about it,” Randy Davenport said. “She can hit. A lot of that goes to the time that she’s put in with the various instructors that she’s used.”

With the Stars, Joni Davenport’s attitude and versatility make her an asset to head coach Dan Burns.

“She would be my disaster catcher,” Burns said. “If I had to have a catcher, it would be her. No one works harder than Joni. She’s just a terrific girl.”

Playing her fourth and final season with the Stars (35-8-2), Joni Davenport homered Saturday morning in a loss to the Arizona Hotshots. She has six home runs through 45 games this summer.

Mostly, Joni Davenport is savoring her final taste of prep softball before heading off to play at Trinidad State Junior College.

“Just having fun hanging out with friends,” Davenport said. “I’m enjoying the game.”

Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi