Chabot College outfielder Andre Davis is a heavy hitter and a comeback story.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound sophomore will lead the fifth-seeded Gladiators (24-12) into the Northern California Regional playoffs against visiting No. 12 Sacramento City (18-18), in a best-of-three series Friday and Saturday, with the winner advancing to the Super Regionals.
Davis, a Redwood Christian High graduate, sat out his junior season in high school after suffering a knee injury -- a torn medial patellofemoral ligament -- that ultimately required two surgeries. He also broke his arm as a freshman.
"It was a little rocky," Davis said of his high-school playing days.
Today, he's an above-average outfielder who ranks third in the state with 39 RBIs. He also shared the lead in the Coast Conference-Golden Gate Division with five home runs.
"He's having a tremendous year," Chabot coach Steve Friend said of Davis, who has signed with the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. "An extremely hard worker. He's turned himself into a player with work in the weight room and in the batting cage."
Sophomore leadoff hitter Brian Hamm (Amador Valley), a left fielder/second baseman, also is enjoying a comeback campaign. Hamm sat out last season after suffering a torn hamstring. In 2011 he was the conference player of the year and an All-American.
"It's been a long, tough road to recover and get back on the field," Friend said of Hamm. "But once we got him in the lineup, he's taken off and done his thing."
Lacking a bunch of big boppers, the Gladiators have thrived by doing the little things well.
"We're not going to overwhelm anybody with individual superstar talent," said Friend, who has guided 23 teams to the playoffs in 25 years as Chabot's head coach. "I think the strength of the team is its collective will and energy. It's the effort they bring. We try to find a way, make a way -- that's what we're all about."
The stats bear that out. Chabot ranked just tied for third in the Golden Gate in home runs but was first in stolen bases, batting average, triples, RBIs and runs scored.
"We know who we are," Davis said. "We're not going to hit the ball like crazy. We know how we're supposed to win, and we play as a team."
Also in the playoffs, No. 13 Laney (21-14) will travel to No. 4 Fresno City (26-10) for a best-of three series, beginning Friday. Los Medanos (19-18), the 18th seed, won a play-in game over Mission-Santa Clara 8-5 on Tuesday and will travel to No. 1 Santa Rosa (28-6-1).
Laney outfielder Todd Burgos won the Bay Valley Conference batting title with a .423 average. Byron Buckley (Encinal) finished fourth at .336.
Catcher Kenny Chavez (Arroyo) led the conference in home runs with six. Julian Kelly (Valley Christian) led the pitching staff with a 6-1 mark.
TENNIS TRIUMPH: The Chabot College men's and women's tennis teams swept the singles and doubles championships at the Coast Conference tournament. Brook Workeneh (Skyline) earned the men's singles title, and teamed with Collin Mui (San Leandro) in doubles. Namrata Sher (Mission San Jose) won in women's singles, and teamed with Ariesha Samuda (Heritage) in doubles.
The Gladiators' women won the conference title and advanced to the NorCal finals before falling 5-0 to Sierra.
HISTORIC HAWKS: In the third year of the program, the Las Positas women's swimming and diving team earned its first Coast Conference meet title. The Hawks were led by McKenna Stevulak (Livermore) and Nichole Maria Cui (Foothill).