Jaliyah Davis didn’t lack talent, she just needed a motivational push from someone.
Her older brother, former Meridian High School and Louisiana Tech quarterback J’Mar Smith provided that push. Davis has been playing softball for MHS since middle school, but when she started out college softball wasn’t even on her mind.
Thanks in part to Smith’s motivation, Davis excelled on the softball field, earning an opportunity to sign with Coahoma Community College, with whom she signed Wednesday afternoon at a signing ceremony at MHS. Without that encouragement
“When I started playing softball, at that point I really didn’t want to play (in college),” Davis said. “My brother kept pushing me by saying, ‘Jaliyah, you need to go to college and play softball because you’re going to be a good softball player in college.’ He pushed me every day, and it helped give me this opportunity I’m standing here with today.”
His words carry weight with Davis not just because Smith is her older brother, but also because he’s a star athlete himself.
“He’s always been my No. 1 supporter,” Davis said. “Anything I needed, I could always ask him. He always tells me we’re just one phone call away from each other.”
Smith said he's happy for his sister and hopes the momentum she's built during her time at MHS will continue at Coahoma.
"I'm extremely proud of her, her journey and her accomplishments," Smith said via text message. "I'm glad to see she achieved getting another opportunity to take her talents to another level. She's determined her destiny now, making her mark to be great. I can't wait to see how great she becomes."
MHS softball coach Mark Davis said once Jaliyah Davis began to grow mentally, her game became good enough to earn her a chance to play at the next level.
“In the division we play in and the teams we play, her having success against those teams I think just helped build her own self-confidence and helped with her mental toughness as well,” Mark Davis said.
Coahoma is almost four hours away from Meridian, but Jaliyah Davis said it’s still close enough for her comfort level.
“They have a good program, and everything is close together, and I wanted to be close to home, so Coahoma was the right choice for me,” Jaliyah Davis said.
While he’s happy for the opportunity his player now has, Mark Davis admitted he’s going to miss having Jaliyah Davis on the Lady Wildcats’ roster, and he said Coahoma is getting a next-level player.
“They are getting a super-talented left-handed hitter, they’re getting a girl who knows how to compete at a high level, and she’s not going to be scared by the competition,” Mark Davis said.
Jaliyah Davis said she expects to play either catcher or first base at Coahoma.