She made vast strides during her senior season at East Alton-Wood River High School. Now, Tori Beachum is awaiting her biggest step of all — college ball.
Beachum, a left-handed pitcher and infielder-outfielder, can’t wait. The Advantage News’ Softball Player of the Year is eager to test for talents at SIUE.
“ They had an awesome year and it’s a great program,” said Beachum, one of the chief recruits for Cougars’ coach Sandy Montgomery. “I’ll pitch for them, but it looks like I will be a utility player, too, and see some time at first base and the outfield.
“ I’ll get a little bit of everything.”
Beachum did all of that and more for the 17-20 Oilers the past season. She posted a 16-7 record, logged a 1.87 ERA and recorded 260 strikeouts in 176 innings. Beachum emerged as the single-season and career strikeout leader in school history. She fanned 783 batters during her career and compiled a 2.27 ERA.
In addition, Beachum batted .372 the past spring and .403 as a junior. During her senior season, she collected 35 hits and drove in 20 runs. Beachum is the first EA-WR female athlete to secure a Division I scholarship.
“ Tori is the poster child for hard work,” Oilers’ coach Dana Emerick said of Beachum’s stellar prep career. “Let’s mention up front that this young lady worked as hard in the classroom (4.0 GPA) as she did on her softball. She has solid career goals and when we talk about taking the game to the next level, you should include classroom in that statement.”
She even withstood a strained left quad that caused her to miss two weeks of the season. The Oilers had their share of struggles without Beachum, but they found their groove late in the season.
EA-WR won seven of its last eight games and pushed top-seeded Dupo to the brink in the championship game of the Class 2A Roxana Regional. The Tigers had to scrap their way to get a 1-0, extra-inning win.
“ That was the best game I ever played,” Beachum said of her dazzling pitching. She blanked Dupo for seven innings in the title game thriller.
Beachum added, “I think we played our best ball at the end of the season. We played together as a team, we developed and we peaked.”
Emerick said that Beachum fueled the peaking process.
“ I have so much respect for this young lady that I’m inspired,” he said. “Tori was a real leader on this team and her dad (assistant coach Mike Beachum) and I trusted her so much that we let her and our catcher, Carly Campbell, call their own games.
“ We would go over the hitters with them before the game and Tori and Carly would take it from there.”
Beachum has been playing softball since she was seven years old and is playing this summer for the Collinsville Extreme Elite Gold. She said her success is something of a family affair.
“ My dad and my grandpa – Tom Stalcup – have really helped me along the way. My dad helps me when I get in a funk and my grandpa helps at calming down my dad,” Beachum quipped.
And she thoroughly enjoyed her years at EA-WR, even if they went by quickly.
“ I guess what I’m the most proud of is the school career strikeout mark,” said Beachum, who surpassed Amanda Hill in that category.
The Cougars expect Beachum to be a key contributor for them and she intends to oblige.
“ SIUE always was one of my top choices to play college softball and it’s close to home so my family will be able to see me play,” said Beachum, planning to major in exercise science. “College is definitely a new chapter in my life and I'm excited about it. I’m ready to go.”