Hometown star Derek Beairsto is keeping his talents local. The 2020 Centralia High School grad has signed with Centralia College to play baseball.
Beairsto, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound righthander, was recruited by the Blazers to play third base and pitcher. He was an All-Area selection by The Chronicle as a junior in 2019 after hitting just under .300 while driving in 14 runs. He was even more effective on the mound, tallying 37 innings with a 4-1 record as a starter and securing two saves in relief to garner a second-team all-2A Evergreen Conference selection.
“I’m really excited to play for Centralia,” Beairsto said. “I always hoped to play in college but I never thought it would actually happen.”
A three-year starter on varsity for the Tigers, Beairsto has been playing baseball since he was 5 years old and on the Thurston County Saints travel team, based out of Olympia, for the past three years.
It was Joe Ash, one of the Saints coaches, who set in motion Beairsto’s eventual signing with the Blazers. Beairsto had just finished wrapping up an impressive campaign with the Saints last summer when Ash approached him with an idea on where to continue his career post high school.
“He said he was really impressed and wanted to know if I’d like playing for Centralia College,” Beairsto said.
The next couple months consisted of Ash convincing Beairsto through texts that the Blazers were the right fit for him: it would be an easy transition close to home, it would save money and Centralia coach Kawika Emsley-Pai had some concrete plans on rebuilding the program. Beairsto first started talking to Blazers coaches in late September 2019, he then committed on Nov. 8, 2019 and signed his National Letter of Intent in December.
Centralia College pitching coach Ben Harley had high praises for Beairsto, who will look to bolster a Blazers staff that combined for a 6.21 ERA and surrendered a second-worst seven home runs during the 10-game shortened season this spring.
“Derek is a player with a ton of upside, both on the mound and at the plate,” Harley said. “He has a great frame that can add muscle, too, which will really help him gain velocity on the mound and power at the plate. We expect him to come in and compete for innings pitching and contribute as a corner infielder.”
Beairsto played just two games his senior year for the Tigers, which is two more than most seniors played this spring with the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out spring sports. But the Tigers were able to squeeze in a doubleheader with Timberline on March 15, the day before the season was canceled for good.
Beairsto started the front-end of the doubleheader, tossing four impressive innings while striking out seven and giving up two hits without an earned run or a walk. It made the cancellation of the season just that more difficult after such a strong early-season showing.
Luckily he was able to play with his Saints AAU team most of the summer, all the way up until three weeks ago when one of his teammate’s brothers contracted coronavirus and the team had to shut the season down. Before that, Beairsto and the Saints played two weeks of intrasquad games, followed by two tournaments and four or five league games.
A three-sport athlete for the Tigers, Beairsto was also a force on the football field, earning first-team all-EvCo honors as a defensive end, as well as a pick on the All-Area football team. He racked up 31 tackles, nine for loss, four sacks and 15 batted passes. He was also the third-leading scorer on the varsity basketball team with 6.8 points per game. But baseball is where his heart is at.
“In other sports, you might not have a very good game but the team could win,” Beairsto said. “I like how in baseball, it’s like, when the game’s on the line, it’s going to be you versus the pitcher. It’s one-on-one and I like the competition.”
Centralia College went 5-5 this spring, the second-best overall record in the Northwest Athletic Conference West Region, before the season was canceled due to COVID-19. They lose 10 total players from last season, including five who moved on to four-year programs.
“Derek is a high-character guy and the type of person you want representing your program on and off the field,” Harley said. “We are excited to see how he develops these next two years.”