Collegiate athletes are some of the most dedicated people on Earth. They always practice harder at their sport than most. They are always looking for new ways to improve and get better. They always look for new opportunities that might help their game.
Camden’s own Devin Beckley, a pitcher for the Citadel baseball team, fits this mold perfectly.
This summer, Beckley has taken his talents to Vermont to play in the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL), a summer league located in the Northeast for college-level players, in an effort to improve his skills for the upcoming school season. Beckley is pitching for the Upper Valley Nighthawks in Hartford, Vt., and currently has one win to his name with no losses. He has yet to allow an earned run and has seven strikeouts. In the games he has appeared in, the Nighthawks are a strong 4-1 as a team.
For Beckley, a 2017 Camden High grad and a class AAA All-State selection, the opportunity to play more baseball is an invaluable learning opportunity.
“Even if our coach (at the Citadel) hadn’t asked us to, I would have chosen to play. It’s a chance to get more innings and experience,” said Beckley.
In Vermont this summer, Beckley is specifically working on pounding the zone for strikes and getting down the number of balls he’s thrown to opposing batters. Last season at the Citadel, Beckley gave up an average of 10 walks per nine innings of action, a large number for the amount of innings played.
“I’m really trying to work on my control. I had too many walks during school ball, so I didn’t get to play as much as I wanted to,” Beckley said.
Beckley is playing on a team constituted entirely of people he has never met or played with until now. One would imagine that this would be a little awkward and perhaps not everyone would get along. According to Beckley, that is not at all the case and in fact the opposite is true.
“It’s super laid-back and everybody is having a lot of fun together,” said Beckley regarding his relationship with coaches and teammates.
In his time before playing for the Citadel and the Nighthawks, Beckley was a pitcher for the Camden High School varsity team before graduating in 2017. He starred for several Bulldog teams that made the state playoffs and was the 2017 Region 4-AAA player of the year while earning AAA All-State honors along the way. A former starting quarterback for the Bulldogs, Beckley was good enough to warrant an athletic scholarship to the Citadel for baseball.
Beckley still holds a special place in his heart for Camden, especially when he’s as far away and in a place as different as Vermont.
“I miss Camden a lot most nights,” said Beckley.
With the experience, coaching, and practice that playing in the NECBL is providing, there is reason for optimism surrounding Devin Beckley and his upcoming junior season for the Citadel.
(David Bishop is a rising senior at Camden High School and a member of the Bulldogs’ varsity golf team. He is a summer intern at the Chronicle-Independent.)