Amber Beal, Vicksburg’s starting pitcher in softball, recently signed a national letter of intent to play for the Spring Arbor University Cougars near Jackson. They compete in the Crossroads League. The four year athletic and academic scholarship was offered by Coach Deb Thompson who observed Beal’s pitching prowess at a fall recruitment clinic at the school.
“I loved the atmosphere at Spring Arbor. I felt the coaches were kind and welcoming. They have a close team and it just felt like family,” Beal explained as she signed to play on a team that competes in the Division II National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Physical therapy has interested Beal, since she suffered a frayed labrum her junior year of competition. “I was wild at first after getting back from my injury, but Coach Gephart had me do a drill by making me pitch in between two batters and that helped me get back on track. I am definitely influenced to major in some sort of athletic trainer work due to the influence of Vicksburg’s athletic trainer intern from WMU, Rubie Gaudette. She worked with me to overcome the injury and it helped me think this would be a good career.” Beal has performed academically, too, sporting a 3.9 GPA.
Beal has been the starting pitcher for the Bulldogs all four years of high school, while also contributing her pitching and hitting strength with District 15 of the Softball World Series held in Kalamazoo each year. This team, comprised of players from high schools all around the area, lost in the finals last summer according to her hitting coach, Chip Mast, who has a sports training facility on Sprinkle Road just north of UV Avenue.
Beal spent six years playing Travel Softball, which she believes was good training for her future. She also had her pitching coach, Mia Barker, along for the picture taking; her high school coach, Paul Gephart; her parents, Jenny and Patrick Beal; her little brother Erik, 11, who endured the travel softball schedule too; as well as her grandparents, Tom and Sue Bliss.