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While Davis Spencer knows his mother wasn’t ever able to see him pitch a single game at Ellensburg High School, he knows she’s been watching in spirit.

And if he needs a reminder, all he needs to do is take a glimpse at his right arm, one that’s been able to pump fastballs in the low 90s and earn him a scholarship at the University of Washington.

Etched with ink in his inner forearm is a small tulip — his mother’s favorite flower — and one that his father and brother also share. Spencer got it when he was just 16 years old and had to travel to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to get tattooed.

Then when he turned 18 last October, Spencer had the sound wave of a voicemail she sent him — two months before she passed away — tattooed and connected with the tulip.

The voicemail reads, “Hey, Davis, I’m just calling to check-in. I love you.”

A simple message that was the last voicemail she ever sent him.

“I love seeing it,” Spencer said. “It makes me think of her, which is good, awesome reason to think about it. I like seeing it when I’m out there on the mound. It keeps me calm, knowing she’s watching.”

Spencer lost his mother, Tana Spencer, in September of 2016 after battling colon cancer. She was first diagnosed in 2011 and then went into remission in 2015.

But then after three months, cancer returned and Tana, knowing the severity of it, eventually wanted to return to her home town of Ellensburg to be with her family.

That happened in August of 2016 as Davis and his mother moved from Orange County, California, a month before his freshman year at EHS. Davis’ father, Jeff Spencer, who worked as a cameraman for ESPN, didn’t move to Ellensburg until August of 2017.

“I was pretty young when it all happened,” Davis said. “I was young enough to understand, or not fully understand it. And that was really hard. It was hard to adjust because it was like losing a mom with the aspect that she couldn’t do stuff around the house — but she was still there. That was hard.”

Davis lived with his aunt and uncle his entire freshman year before his father moved to Ellensburg. Since then, it’s been the two of them.

And because of what they’ve experienced with the loss of Tana, their relationship undoubtedly grew stronger, as with Davis’ brother, too, who’s a junior at Seattle Pacific University.

That’s largely why when the University of Washington offered the 6-foot-6 right-hander a baseball scholarship, it was an easy decision because of the opportunity to play Division I ball in the same vicinity as his father and brother.

“Anywhere I would have gone he (Jeff) would have been happy,” Davis said. “And I think being in Seattle makes it a little sweeter.”

Davis’ lengthy frame and velocity didn’t get noticed until midway through his junior season. And by chance when he got the start versus Ephrata late in the season, a Philadelphia Phillies scout was in attendance to watch Ellensburg’s catcher Jadon Bugni.

In the Bulldogs’ 11-0 win, which lasted five innings, Davis exuded dominance, tossing a complete game with a sterling 13 strikeouts and allowed just two hits.

The Phillies scout spoke with Davis afterward and hours later, he began to receive calls from college coaches all around.

Seattle University was the first to offer.

“I was like ‘wow, this is getting real,’” Davis said.

UW came into the picture after the 2019 season ended with recruiting coordinator Jason Kelly reaching out to Ellensburg head coach Todd Gibson. But not long after Kelly accepted a coaching job at Arizona State University and Davis was unaware of his recruitment status.

That was until UW hired Elliott Cribby ‪on June 13 as its new recruiting coordinator. Cribby was previously at Purdue and already had been in contact with Davis.

Davis, the No. 14 ranked player in the state of Washington by Baseball Northwest and No. 16 by Prep Baseball Report, took his visit ‪on June 17 and committed days later.

He’s one of the 13 signees (six pitchers) of UW’s 2020 class.

“When it’s all said and done, we believe Davis Spencer is going to be one of those classic Northwest power arms,” UW head coach Lindsay Meggs said in a release. “Standing almost 6-foot-7, Davis has tremendous tilt on the fastball and is already a very uncomfortable at-bat for both right- and left-handed hitters. Along with the obvious upside, Davis is also a good competitor with a great work ethic. And once the slider and the change-up catch up to his fastball, we believe Davis has a chance to be an All-Pac-12 performer.”


Davis has been part of back-to-back state titles with Ellensburg in 2017 and 2018. After limited playing time during his freshman season because of an elbow injury, he played a pivotal role with the Bulldogs as a sophomore –especially in the postseason.

He came out of the bullpen in the opening round of the 2018 2A state playoffs versus Fife as well as the championship versus Mountlake Terrace. In those six innings pitched (five versus Fife), Davis didn’t allow any hits or walks and fanned 12 batters with the final sealing Ellensburg’s 2-1 win to capture its second straight championship.

“His proven performances in the biggest games, on the biggest stage lets you know you have a competitive leader out there that breeds confidence throughout the team,” Gibson said.

As a junior, Davis went 3-2 with a 1.25 ERA in 10 appearances (started in seven). He walked 13 and struck out 50.

But his insatiable personality is striving for more.

He played summer ball with the Mudville 9 on the West Side and also vied in the Area Code games that’s a three-day showcase of six regionals teams that rosters the best high school players in the country.

Davis also opted not to play basketball last winter to focus solely on offseason training. He’s been working with former Central Washington University basketball player and assistant coach for EHS basketball, Dom Hunter, to improve his explosiveness with jump training — to throw even harder.

And he’s trying to stay “more loose” in his throwing motion.

“If I could hit 94, maybe even 95 I’d be pretty excited,” Davis said. “I think I can, I just got to get stronger. Got to work on my mechanics a little bit and I think I can.”

While Davis’ fastball has made a name for himself, it’s now fine-tuning his command with off-speed pitches.

“Having confidence and throwing them,” said Mudville 9 baseball coach Don Sparling of Davis’ off-speed pitches. “Lot of younger kids, it just takes a lot of time to develop. It’s having the confidence to throw the pitch behind in the count or not hoping it’s going to go over the plate — believing it’s going to go over the plate.”

It’s unknown if Davis will clad the No. 16 Ellensburg jersey for one final season amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. With schools statewide shut down until April 24, it’s put spring sports into an indefinite hiatus.

But he’ll be ready. And if and when that time comes, it will carry heavy significance for Davis.

As will every outing and every pitch he throws going forward in his career.

“I wish she could be there to watch,” Davis said. “It will be pretty emotional, but I know she’s proud. And I know she’s watching.”

Luke Olson:; on Twitter: @lukeolsonb.

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