The Australian Baseball League canceled its 2021-2022 season, but a few ABL clubs weren’t content with taking the season off. The Melbourne Challenge is a result of the Melbourne Aces wanting to play baseball this winter and play baseball they have. It’s a circus league, which for those not familiar is not a bad thing. It simply means that the MC is a hastily put-together league that is only intended to last for this one season and has a loose structure in place. It’s still professional baseball though, and that’s why Genevieve Beacom taking the mound in the top of the sixth inning Saturday morning was a big deal.
Beacom is a phenom, that’s the best way to put it. A 6’1” 17-year-old who has excelled at baseball from the moment she took up the game. Not only did she excel playing against other girls and women, she more than held her own against boys and men as well. Never was that more true than in game two of the MC when she entered the Aces game against the Adelaide Giants and pitched a scoreless inning. She didn’t look perfect by any means, but she looked like she belonged and that’s why her performance mattered beyond just the “a woman is playing against men” aspect.
It’s been reported that Beacom’s fourseam fastball sits in the 85-88 mile per hour range. There was no stadium gun to go off of on Saturday, but her fourseam fastball looked very lively. I’m not an expert on velocity and pitch speed by any measure, but to my untrained eye, it did seem like her fourseam was coming in around the range it has been reported. But, the speed of her fastball wasn’t what people should be taking away from her performance. What people should be taking away is that she struggled with control, worked through those struggles, and ended her inning just like any pitcher could have in the same situation.
She mainly relied on the fourseam and a curveball. Her curveball would appear to be her out pitch, but she only flashed it a few times. It had plenty of break and no hitter looked up to the task of taking it on when she did throw her bender. Mainly Beacom relied on her fourseam, which made sense given the control issues she was working through.
Her pitches themselves weren’t as notable as the sequencing she displayed. She wasn’t just throwing the baseball, she had a clear plan in place and executed that plan rather well. She faced five hitters, one reached by error, she walked another one, and then she registered two force-outs and one fly out. The force-outs came first and they were the result of the left-handed Beacom setting up hitters for her fourseamer inside on their hands. Both hitters were jammed and grounded weakly to third base, the same was true of the error earlier in the inning. The final out of the inning was because she had thrown her fourseamer high and away to the first four hitters. The fifth hitter tried to jump on it but Beacom threw it a little higher and a little further away and all Jack Partington could muster was a weak flyout to right field.
It was one inning, but it was one inning where Beacom looked like any prospect you would expect to see taking the mound in any men’s professional league. There’s plenty of potential and there’s also the chance it never quite materializes fully. That’s the beauty of what Beacom represents, she isn’t some sideshow or a money grab. She’s a talented pitcher who could or could not have a great professional career ahead of her. It’s unclear exactly where that might be. Perhaps it will be in the ABL, maybe it will be in a new or existing women’s pro league, or maybe it will be in a men’s league outside of Australia. Beacom has said she wants to play baseball in college, so all those possibilities may have to be put on pause for a few years. The reality of Genevieve Beacom is that she is a talented pitcher who has plenty of pathways in front of her and no matter where she ends up I’m sure she will be fun to watch.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Melbourne Aces