• Homer second baseman gets national attention for outstanding level of play
By Sean Pearson
Former Homer High School senior Miranda Beach is having a pretty awesome month. After turning in a number of solid performances for her Lady Mariners’ softball team, Beach graduated last Monday amid several scholarship offers and heads to Anchorage tomorrow to play in the State Softball Championships.
And, while her many accomplishments certainly didn’t go unnoticed in local circles, even Homer Head Coach Bill Bell was caught a bit off-guard when coaches at the national level started to sit up and take notice.
Beach was selected by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association as the West Region High School Player of the Week after turning in some pretty staggering statistics over a week of five games. The West Region encompasses 13 western states, and no previous Alaska player has received this honor.
“I was incredibly surprised,” Beach said of her recognition. “I didn’t even know there was such an award.”
Beach said she learned of her selection right before the team was getting ready to leave the high school for a game in Soldotna.
“Coach Bill came out of the office with a huge grin on his face and told me about it,” she said. “He said, ‘This has never happened to anyone on my team in my 20 years of coaching.’ Needless to say, that was very exciting and I feel very honored.”
Beach has been playing softball since starting with T-ball at the age of 4, and says she’s been “completely enthralled by the sport” ever since.
“For me, softball is a unique combination of thought and athletic ability,” she explained. “You have to be physically quick, but you also have to beat the other team mentally. You have to outsmart them.”
Miranda credits her parents, Sydney Webb and Geo Beach, for sparking her interest in the game … as well as keeping that flame burning throughout the years, as the sport continued to be a large part of her life.
“My parents have always encouraged me and helped me pursue my love of the game,” she explained. “They took me to numerous softball clinics, supported my summer play with the Amateur Softball Association, and always pushed me to keep improving my level of play.”
According to Beach, her dream to play high school softball came fairly early, and she attended all of the high school games when she was younger
“I just remember being so impressed by players like Piper Daugharty, Lauren Bell and Kayla Creamer,” she said. “They won the State Championship in 2006, and since then, I’ve always had the drive to play high school ball and play on a team that would win another state championship.”
While certainly a strong hitter in earlier years, Beach’s power and consistency at the plate saw significant improvement over the last year.
“I’ve made a lot of progress on my hitting this year; so much just fell into place with my swing,” she said. “I’ve been able to hit the ball better and fully utilize my swing to my advantage.”
Beach said she’s never actually classified her hitting and doesn’t necessarily consider herself a “power hitter.”
“I don’t go up to bat looking for a big hit, I simply focus on the pitch and try my best to get on base and let our team score,”she said. “I just do what I can to help my team.”
Coach Bell has also noticed the change in Beach’s level of player over the years.
“Miranda has grown tremendously,” Bell said. “Getting the confidence to play hard, make an occasional mistake and move on has been a big change for her.”
When teammate Larsen Fellows went down with an injury earlier in the season, Bell moved Beach from her usual position at second, into the shortstop “hot zone.”
“She got a one-game learning curve, and then just took off,” he said. “I really like her quiet confidence.”
Bell said many of Beach’s fellow seniors share that same level of confidence, and that helps to build a very strong team.
“They just go out to play,” Bell said. “There’s nothing flashy and in your face, they are just solidly there.”
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