06/12/10 — Beachem opn his way to Barton

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Beachem opn his way to Barton

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 12, 2010 11:32 PM

Eastern Wayne coach Jabo Fulghum gathered his seniors one afternoon and explained to them the "ins and outs" of college athletics.

Academics is most important, stressed Fulghum. Zach Beachem now understands what Fulghum meant.

The Warrior first baseman/pitcher wanted to play college baseball. As time passed and coaches depleted their scholarship allotment, Beachem constantly pushed himself in the classroom to earn an academic package.

"There are certain situations where a college coach wants you to come play, but they may have already recruited hard and not have the scholarship money to offer you," said Beachem, who missed North Carolina Scholar accolades by one-tenth of a point.

But Barton had a roster spot.

And coach Todd Wilkinson willingly kept the door open.

"I talked to a few places about trying to play next year ... at least through college," said Beachem. "The Barton coach came to watch me a few times and coach Fulghum talked to them a little bit for me. They didn't have too much scholarship money, but offered me a roster spot.

"It's going to be a free for all. There will be a lot of freshmen who all think they can get the job done, but nobody's spot is set in stone from what the coach told me."

Beachem joins a Bulldog program that logged a 21-26 worksheet this spring. Barton advanced to the season-ending Conference Carolinas tournament, but was eliminated by eventual champion -- and archrival -- Mount Olive College.

The Bulldogs seized the league's regular-season title in 2006 and claimed their lone tournament crown in 2002. Before moving to the Division II ranks in the mid-1990s, Wilkinson guided the program to tremendous success on the NAIA scene.

"I like the environment," said Beachem. "Coach Wilkinson is a great coach and he knows the game of baseball. I think that he's got what he needs (in the program), it just hasn't come all together yet. Their program hasn't been as successful in the past as Mount Olive.

"Once we get that success, the confidence will be and we can mesh together. At Eastern Wayne, we bonded really well."

The Warriors, indeed, gelled during Beachem's career.

Eastern Wayne claimed three consecutive Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference regular-season titles, and emerged the N.C. High School Athletic Association state runner-up in 2008.

Beachem has been part of 64 victories in a Warrior uniform.

"Zach has great work habits and he will blend in just fine for coach Wilkinson at Barton," said Fulghum.

An all-ECC performer, Beachem swatted a team-leading five home runs and recorded a team-best .967 fielding percentage. He logged 135 putouts and 13 assists with just five errors.

He was equally as good on the mound. The southpaw emerged the lone county hurler to post a spotless record (4-0) and he recorded a 4.28 ERA in 31-plus innings of work.

"Being a left-handed pitcher, you don't have to throw 90 miles per hour to be effective," said Beachem, who has a three-pitch arsenal. "I have to work on my mechanics and delivery a little bit. I need to work on my off-speed pitches and make sure I can spot my fastball because that's really what's helped me this year."