by Bruce Strand, Sports Editor
The Elk River softball team playing in the state tournament this week gets much of its heart and soul from senior shortstop Austyn Beese.
“Austyn is just an amazing captain,” coach Stacey Sheetz said. “Our infield wouldn’t be anywhere without her. She is our voice out there. She picks people up. She’s been like that since her sophomore year.”
Beese can hit and field pretty well, too. The leadoff batter had a .321 average, 15 RBIs and 13 runs heading into state. She anchors the infield with alert leadership, a steady glove and strong, accurate arm. She will return to North Mankato (along with Kathi Opsahl) for the coaches state all-star series on June 9.
Beese was voted MVP of last year’s 14-12 team when she hit .308 with 18 runs and 13 RBIs, helping them get hot at the end and reach the section finals.
A straight-A student who wants to be a doctor, Beese easily embraces the leadership role. Asked what the Elks need from her, she said, “To be a vocal leader and get everyone organized.”
She is a four-year starter on teams with a 59-34 record. After two years at second base alongside Hanson, she took over at shortstop.
Beese is a lone girl with four brothers: one older, three younger. She figures the only disadvantage to that is “always getting outvoted in what TV programs to watch.” The big pluses are having plenty of fellow ballplayers around and not having a sister to fight with over girly things. Beese played baseball until age 12 (she was a pitcher) and her brother Brennan was a teammate.
The 5-foot-8 Beese was a right-side hitter on a 17-12 volleyball team, notching 135 kills, fourth on the squad. She got the Coaches Award.
“Austyn always gave 100 percent in practice and games and could be trusted to support and encourage others to be their best,” coach Pam Gothe said. “She volunteered in our youth programs. She was a joy to work with and I couldn’t be happier to see her succeed in softball as well.”
Beese said her two main softball highlights so far are last year’s two section wins over longtime nemesis Brainerd and this year’s dominant run through sections (4-0, and 29-1 in runs).
“It was great the way it all came together. We have such good chemistry on this team.”
THE BEESE SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents Paul and Tana; brothers Jericho, Brennan, Cole and Blake … Sports: volleyball, softball … Other activities: Link, Spanish Club … Academics: over 4.0 … College plans: Iowa State, pre-med
Favorite stuff — Classes: Biology, Anatomy, Chemistry .. TV show: “That 70’s Show” … Movies: “Titanic” and “The Notebook” … Food: chicken afredo at Olive Garden … Drink: chocolate milk … Teams: Twins, Wild … Music: Train, Three Doors Down, Nickleback … Kickback activity: going to movies … Would like to visit: Australia, Italy