Although Bearden baseball’s best start in four seasons has been a team effort, the Bulldogs’ junior class has arguably played the biggest role in their hot start to the season.
“The talent in the junior class is really solid,” junior pitcher and outfielder David Beam said. “We have a lot of juniors that play important roles on the team.”
Bearden (10-3, 4-1 District 4-AAA) returns to action Friday at home against Morristown West at 6 p.m. to improve on the best start in the Coach John Rice era. That game has moved from its originally scheduled date of Thursday because of rain.
Two of the junior class’s main sources of production, Beam and Brandon Trammell, have been gathering attention to play at the next level.
Tennessee and reigning NCAA champion Vanderbilt have been among the schools to show interest in Beam and Trammell.
“David and Brandon are getting a lot of attention,” Coach Rice said. “We just talked to Vanderbilt a couple days ago about those guys.
“They’re really good players, and the best part about our team is that we have some good players, and we also have really good kids.”
This past offseason, a Tennessee coach visited batting practice to see Beam and Trammell hit, and the two combined for 34 home runs.
Bearden assistant coach Jack Tate said it was the best round of batting practice he had ever seen.
The success of the junior class, however, has not been limited to Beam and Trammell.
Shawn DeAngelo, Keith Gabrielson, Prater Knight, and Clark Poynter have all had a significant impact on this year’s success.
“The biggest thing is we’ve all gotten bigger, faster, and stronger,” Gabrielson said. “Brandon and I have grown probably four inches [since freshman year], and David’s put in a ton of work in the weight room.
“Overall, that’s helped our games improve.”
Coach Rice says that while the team lifts weights three days a week, Beam asks most weeks to come in to the weight room and lift the other two days a week.
His coach offers no objection.
While the senior class does present strong leadership on the team, the juniors have also stepped up to leading a team mostly comprised of freshmen and sophomores.
“I’d say a lot of leadership comes from the seniors, but there’s also leadership in the junior class,” Beam said. “Both the seniors and juniors have strong work ethics, which makes the underclassmen work hard too.”
And if that hard work continues, the junior class will continue to stand out.