Photo by Diane Cox
East Alton-Wood River High School’s Victoria Beachum with her parents, Mike and Alison, as she signs the letter of intent for SIUE.
By Diane Cox
For AdVantage News
Senior Victoria Beachum stuck to her long-term plan to play collegiate softball when she became the first female in the history of East Alton-Wood River High School to sign with a Division I program.
Beachum signed her letter of intent to play softball for SIUE Tuesday in front of family, friends, coaches and classmates in the EA-WR auditorium.
“I’ve played softball since I was 5, pitching since I was 7,” Beachum said. “Reaching this goal is surreal. I’ve played softball my whole life and all that work is finally paying off. I’m so blessed to be where I’m at right now; I still feel like I’m on cloud nine.”
Beachum has not taken her approach to softball lightly. Along with being in the top 10 percent of her class academically, she plays select softball year round under coach Brett Swip with the Extreme softball team as well as conditioning and work with EA-WR head coach Dana Emerick.
“Tori has played for me the last two years and putting her in touch with SIUE was finding the right fit for her,” Swip said. “Tori is a wonderful athlete, a wonderful person; when you put an athlete like her together with college coaches, well, they mesh really well and that’s what happened with SIUE. All the extra workouts, weightlifting and dedication has certainly paid off for her.”
Setting the standard is nothing new for Beachum when it comes to her hard work and dedication on the mound. On May 12, Beachum broke the Oilers’ single-season strikeout record in grand fashion. The Oilers were celebrating their yearly throwback game, wearing uniforms from the 1980s, when Beachum took the mound and not only broke the record but threw a perfect game against the Hillsboro Hilltoppers.
“Tori has been a coach’s dream,” Emerick said. “She has been so focused; this is what she’s wanted all along. She’s the perfect example of how hard work can also be fun. She almost feels like one of my kids; I couldn’t be happier or more proud of her. I wish her luck at SIUE. I know she’ll do well.”
A senior at EA-WR, Beachum knows she still has one more season wearing maroon and gold, and more goals to reach.
“I know I’d like to get a lot more strikeouts. I’m not far from breaking the career strikeout record at EA-WR,” Beachum said. “My strikeout pitch is my rise ball and I really want to get that working as well as getting some more hits in the outfield.”
Beachum has 482 career strikeouts through three years of high school softball and is in reach to break the career EA-WR record. Beachum was within one strikeout her sophomore year of breaking the single-season record, which was previously set at 229, but her season was shortened with a broken arm and she had to wait until her junior year to surpass that goal. In addition to the single-season strikeout record, Beachum holds the single-game strikeout record with 24, led the Oilers with a batting average of .403, had an on-base percentage of .535 and a .493 slugging percentage. Beachum is a two-time All-State selection voted by the Illinois Softball Association. She is a two-time Oiler MVP and traveled with the Collinsville Extreme select team in the offseason, playing in the Gold Nationals in Oklahoma.
“We knew when Tori came in as a freshman that she’d have real potential,” EA-WR Athletic Director Adam Miller said. “It’s a real testament of not just her hard work, but her family and her coaches, too. This is really great for our school as a whole, but much more than that, it’s fantastic for Tori and her family.”
Mike Beachum has served not only as Victoria’s father, but as her coach throughout her years. Mike Beachum has been the Oilers assistant softball coach for the last several years.
“It’s been a real joy to see something like this develop, especially when it’s your own kid,” Beachum said. “There have been times where it’s hard to separate the Dad from the coach since we’ve been going through this process as a little bitty kid. Tori and I know how much work we’ve put in during the offseasons, so it makes it that much more special for us. We love that she’s going to be 15 minutes from home and you know we’ll be at those games.”
Victoria Beachum doesn’t sit out a season at EA-WR either; she’s also a competitive cheerleader for the Oilers as they prepare for the basketball season and their first cheerleading competition Nov. 30 at Edwardsville.