Erica Beach to be Inducted into Two Hall of Fames
July 27, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Ten years after her collegiate career and a few months after a breakthrough Lobo softball season, University of New Mexico head coach Erica Beach will be inducted into two Hall of Fames.
The Scottsdale, Ariz., native will be inducted into the Arizona Softball Foundation Hall of Fame on Aug. 4, and on Sept. 21, Beach will join the Arizona State Sports Hall of Fame.
For the former ASU All-American, the news is still sinking in.
"It's a huge honor to be recognized for doing something I love to do and that I've had so much fun doing all my life," Beach said.
The Arizona Softball Foundation (ASF) was established in 1973 to promote and recognize the accomplishments of teams, players, coaches, umpires and sponsors who have made contributions to Arizona softball at all levels of the game. The non-profit organization typically inducts two male and two female Hall of Fame members each year. This year, Beach is among three other women and two men to be inducted.
As of right now, Beach is one of seven of ASU's inductees.
Former Sun Devil student-athletes have to have been out of school for at least ten years and achieved great things while in college (All-American) or after (Olympics, Pro ball, coaching, etc.) to be eligible for nomination.
Vice President of ASF Karen Mischlispy says Beach is extremely deserving of the honor.
"I've seen Erica play since she was about 10 years old," Mischlispy said. "Myself, along with several other softball nuts have watched her evolve and develop as a player and now a coach. She's an outstanding person, player and I know she's going to (continue) to be an outstanding coach."
The criterion for ASF's Hall of Fame for female players requires at least eight years of playing softball at, "a significant level" in Arizona. Beach did just that from childhood through her early 20s.
Beach began playing T-ball and baseball when she was 7 years old and started playing softball competitively when she was 10.
"It started with my family," Beach said. "I got into the sport because of my father and my two older sisters. They were playing ball when I was just doing cartwheels on the side of the field. They're the ones that got me into the game and then my dad was the first one to get me focused on the game and to commit to the sport."
Both of Beach's sisters went played at junior colleges in Arizona with Nicole, the middle sister, playing two years at Utah State. Leah, the oldest, ended up coaching at Arizona State for a few years, including two seasons in which Erica was a player.
Beach tasted success young, helping her 12-and-under team, the Arizona Storm, claim the Amateur Softball Association's 12U National Championship in 1992.
The left-handed pitcher made varsity as a freshman at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale and helped her team claim four consecutive state championships (1995-98). She posted an 88-6 high school career record with a 0.24 ERA and twice earned National Fastpitch Coaches Association first team All-American honors. Beach was also an NFCA four-time first-team All-West Region honoree, Pitcher of the Year (three times), three-time all-state, 1998 Pitcher and Player of the Year by the Arizona Republic and a 1998 third-team All-American selected for 18U Gold Nationals.
Beach decided to stay in state for her collegiate career and was a first team All-American and a second-team All-Pac 10 (now Pac-12) selection her freshman season. As a pitcher and designated player, she led her team in at bats, batting average, hits and total bases her rookie year.
Beach helped the Sun Devils to the NCAA Tournament all four seasons with Women's College World Series appearances in 1999 and 2002. She set a number of program records that have since been broken, but are still in the program's top ten: runs-batted-in (48 in 2000), home runs (8 in 2000) and single-season wins (33 in 2002). She also ranks in the top-ten for career records at ASU for home runs (27), RBIs (153), hits (222), doubles (28), wins (79) and strikeouts (501).
She is also one of seven Sun Devil pitchers to throw a perfect game, doing so her freshman year in a 4-0 victory over then-No. 16 California.
Beach earned All-Conference and All-Region honors all four years of her ASU career.
She continued to play club ball in the summers with the Phoenix Storm. Beach helped the Storm win the ASA Women's Major Fast Pitch Championship in 2000 and 2001 and to a runner-up finish in 1999.
In addition to her on-the-field accolades, Beach was a standout in the classroom, making first team Academic All-America her junior season and first team Academic All-District her senior year.
"I always wanted to be a champion," she said. "I always wanted to be successful on the field. It's just how I was built and it was what I wanted to do. For me, the classroom was fun. Luckily I was able to study something that I loved and enjoyed at one of the top broadcasting schools (ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication) in the nation."
"As an individual you can only go so far," Beach said. "It takes that coach or that teammate to really get you to go beyond those boundaries and push yourself beyond where you thought you could go."
Her first pitching coach, Mike Roberts, made her mentally tough. Her high school coach, Jeff Oscarson, led her and her teammates on a fulfilling journey of four state titles, and her college coach, Linda Wells took her "so many places as a player."
"I had so many great coaches and teammates throughout my career. It's tough to name them all," Beach said. "They pushed me to be a better player and to go further than I thought I could."
Long-time teammate and friend Kara Brun says she can't think of anyone more deserving of the two Hall of Fame honors than Beach, noting that Beach not only played the game well, but has used the game to positively influence others.
"Athletically, she's amazing and deserves this," Brun said. "As a person and as a role model she's great, too. While we were playing, she was a role model to her peers and to the young kids that watched us."
The two began playing club softball before they were teen-agers and played three years of college ball together.
"She's a great teammate," Brun said. "When you get into college there are a lot of awards to be won, records and recognition. Erica couldn't have cared less about that stuff. She didn't get caught up in it. She wanted what was best for the team. She played through injury and fatigue and battled all the time."
In the fall of 2003, Beach began both her professional career and her coaching career in Europe playing for the Sparks Haarlem in The Netherlands while instructing a Dutch junior team. She played professionally in Europe and the U.S. for five seasons, winning four championships (2003 European Cup and 2006-08 National Pro Fastpitch Championship) and garnering Outstanding Pitcher and All-Star honors.
She also coached in Europe and in Arizona, leading her junior squad in the Netherlands to a Dutch Junior League championship and serving as an assistant coach on two teams that made two trips to the State tournament in 2003 and 2004.
Beach joined the collegiate coaching ranks in the summer of 2006 when she made the move to Ohio State. She worked primarily with the Buckeyes pitchers and catchers, while coordinating other aspects of the game and daily team administration. The Buckeyes hosted and advanced to the NCAA Regional Championship game in 2007, 2009 and 2010 with the 2009 team moving on to the NCAA Super Regional. In her four years at OSU, pitchers and catchers earned three All-America selections, seven All-Region honors and one Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
UNM announced the hiring of Beach on June 17, 2010. In her first season, she compiled a record of 19-26-- a drastic improvement on New Mexico's 2010 performance of 11-37 and the Lobos' best record since 2008 (25-26 overall).
The trio guided the Lobos to a 27-25 record - UNM's first winning season since 2001. It was also the program's most wins in a season since 2004 and the first 20-plus win season in four years.
The Lobos set a number of team records, such as the program's mark for best start to a season (17-2) and two Mountain West conference single-season records for home runs (95) and team slugging percentage (.568). UNM also ranks in the MW's single-season top-ten for RBIs (319) and total bases (832).
The 2012 squad also reached the USAToday/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top-25 poll for the first time since May 12, 1999--cracking into the ranks at No. 24 in the third week of the poll on Feb. 28. The Lobos made it as high as No. 23 in the poll for weeks #4 and #5.
Beach's `Bos ranked No. 1 among NCAA Div. I softball programs for home runs the entire regular season, averaging 1.83 long balls per contest. UNM hit at least one homer in all but nine games and the Lobos had a game-high five home runs on Feb. 17 at home against Bryant.
According to statistics released by the NCAA for Division I softball for games through May 13, the Lobos ranked third for slugging percentage (.568), eighth in scoring (6.67 runs per game) and 20th in batting average (.311).
Beach coached two All-Region players in Stefanie Carramusa and Jessica Garcia, who were named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's All-Region West Teams. Garcia also earned NFCA at-large Third Team All-America honors and Easton Fastpitch Second Team All-America honors. She became the first Lobo since 1990, and only the fifth in program history, to receive national honors.