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New roles for Beauman: Pitcher, infielder, leader

[02/16/01] Mitchell Beauman got a big vote of confidence from his teammates. He got 26 of 27 votes, to be exact. The final ballots for team captain surprised Vicksburg High coach Jamie Creel.

“Actually, it was amazing to me that one guy didn’t vote for him,” Creel said. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know if I’d get that many votes … Everybody has a tremendous amount of respect Mitchell.”

Beauman’s final year of high school baseball will no doubt be his busiest. After three years as the Gators’ starting catcher, he will also be relied on as a starting pitcher, a utility infielder and an outfielder. He’ll still be the No. 1 catcher and he’s VHS’ top returning hitter. Add team leader and cheerleader to those on-the-field duties, and he has his hands full.

“He’s a team player,” Creel said. “He’ll do whatever it takes for the Gators to win.”

Beauman, even when he was a scrawny freshman thrown into the varsity fire, has always been one of VHS’ most intense players. But not until this year, as the only senior starter, has he felt comfortable being a vocal leader.

“I’ll definitely say what needs to be said now,” Beauman said. “I’m playing with people younger, so I can be myself. In the past, I didn’t really feel like it was my place.”

Creel has seen the transformation.

“There were times in the fall that he chewed players out,” Creel said. “I just turned the other way … He’s a different person.”

Beauman batted .333 with two homers and 23 RBIs and was second on the team with a .487 on-base percentage to make All-County last year. And his hitting has only gotten better after a summer with the Jackson Bombers, which included a wood bat tournament at Ole Miss. So far, Meridian Community College has shown the most interest.

Last year, he pitched only 9.3 innings, going 1-1 with a 6.02 ERA. Over the summer and fall, he worked hard on a changeup and curve to go with his fastball and managed to earn a spot in Creel’s starting rotation.

“He’s just a bulldog on the mound,” Creel said.

Beauman also put in extra work with Creel get his timing down at other positions. It required a change in approach for Beauman.

Instead of getting his body in front of the ball to block it, like he has been trained to do behind the plate, “I have to remember to use my glove. It hasn’t been that tough, though. It’s just a matter of getting back into the mechanics.”

Though he doesn’t take any credit for it, Beauman said the team effort is better than it’s been in his last three years at VHS.

“He’s matured a lot,” Creel said. “Temper has been an issue, but I think he’ll harness that and work it to our advantage.

“He’s one of the most solid individuals I’ve ever been around, from his Christian lifestyle to how courteous he is … He deserves whatever recognition he gets. I expect big things from him.”