As coach Jimmie Lewis' go-to guy, Harlem High ace Derek Beasley might have the toughest job in area baseball.
While the Bulldogs ready themselves for the playoffs, Beasley is 3-3 on the mound, with one save.
"The reason he's 3-3 is he gets all the major hoss teams -- the Evans, the Lakesides, the Greenbriers, the Westsides," Lewis said of Beasley. "He has to pitch against those teams."
Still, as far as Beasley is concerned, with great risks come great rewards.
Beasley has been part of the only two Harlem teams ever to defeat baseball powerhouse Greenbrier. The most recent win came earlier this season.
"I was on the mound for all seven innings of that game," Beasley said. "It's something I'll never forget."
Beasley improved his record to 4-3 Monday as Harlem handed county-leading Lakeside only its third loss of the season.
Though he said he has worked on improving his velocity, Beasley is a finesse pitcher with one of the best change-ups in the county.
It's an appropriate pitch for a teen who likes to be in charge.
"The mound is where I'm supposed to be at," he said. "I like being in control."
Beasley's baseball talents also extend to the batter's box.
The senior leads the team in home runs with three, maintains a .438 batting average, has 18 RBI and eight stolen bases.
When Beasley graduates next month, and later starts a new stage of his career as a pitcher and outfielder for USC Aiken, Lewis said, he'll miss his ace's arm, bat and intangibles.
"He's a leader by example," Lewis said. "He works hard and does his job. He just leads."
The 18-year-old started his career in T-ball leagues and served on every all-star team available to him while playing rec ball. Though he played at Greenbrier Middle, Beasley transferred to Harlem High for a chance at more varsity time and to learn under Lewis.
"He knows everything," Beasley said of his coach. "It really helps me with my game. I'd rather play under him than anyone else."
It was his father, Steve Beasley, who turned him on to the game.
"It's a game my dad's played ever since he was little, and he raised me up with it," he said.
Steve Beasley also played for Lewis and hit the walk-off home run that won Harlem a state championship in 1981.
"He's always rubbing it in. It's ridiculous," Derek's said of his father. "Everything I do, he's got to bring that up."
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