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Injury not keeping Beaty from honoring grandfather


Caitlin Beaty has a medal hanging on the wall in her room. It was given to her in 2015 by then Aledo softball coach Jeff Lemons at the funeral of her grandfather, former Aledo ISD Superintendent Don Daniel.

Lemons, now the coach at Weatherford, had just led the Ladycats to back-to-back state championships. He said he was moved by Beaty’s speech at her grandfather’s funeral.

“He told me to keep working hard and by the time I get to high school I could get one of my own. He inspired me to be a Ladycat,” Beaty said.

The combination of that moment and the promise to her grandfather to keep playing are the driving forces behind her to this day. She came close to a state championship medal last season when the Ladycats finished second at the state tournament. This season, her senior one, though she is sidelined with a knee injury, she suits up for every game, sits in the dugout, and does everything she can to help her team in its quest to win one more game this year than last.

Beaty lost her grandfather and her 14-year-old cousin Hunter Corzine in a fatal automobile accident in June of 2015. The two were returning home after playing golf — a round Caitlin was supposed to join them in before her grandfather suggested she not.

“He told me not to, that my bat was too hot and I was hitting too well to take a chance on messing up my swing,” she remembered. “I was a little mad I couldn’t go, but it turned out the last thing he did for me was save my life.”

Though she’s a good golfer, she doesn’t play much anymore. “It’s not the same as hitting a softball, which I like doing a lot better,” she said with a smile.

It is softball at which she has excelled in her grandfather’s honor, who was a standout baseball player in his own right. He played at Ranger College and Texas Wesleyan University and was in line to be drafted by the Chicago White Sox before injuring his arm, Beaty said. He also coached at Brewer High School before entering administration, winning a pair of district championships.

He became superintendent at Aledo in 1999 and served until 2011. During his tenure the district underwent several improvements, including the relocation of the high school to its current campus with new athletic facilities.

He was also a catcher, the same position she plays. When she kneels behind the plate to start a game she draws an H and a P in the dirt for Hunter and Pawpaw, her nickname for her grandfather.

“I always know he’s on the field with me,” she said. “He taught me how to be a catcher.”

Lemons was good friends with Daniel, who he said played a big role in him getting hired to coach in Aledo.

“Her granddad was an amazing man. I told her, ‘Your granddad built all this. Softball meant the world to him,’” Lemons recalled. “I gave a challenge to her. Though I’ve never coached her, to follow her through high school has been a joy. Watching her get on that bus to go to state last year was a fantastic moment.”

Lemons retired from coaching softball after the 2015 season (he returned to coach Weatherford in 2019) and became the girls golf coach, leading those teams to some state appearances. He also had a special golf bag made with Hunter’s name on it.

Ironically, it was in a game against Lemons’ Lady Kangaroos in which Beaty injured her knee in an awkward and accidental collision at the plate. She didn’t realize the extent of the injury at first and finished the game. In fact, she continued to play for a few more games before the pain became too intense.

“I didn’t say anything about the pain, but I had to face the music and realize I have four more years of this (playing) that I have to consider,” she said, referencing her going to play at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in the fall.

“It was devastating. I always wanted to be a senior catcher, the leader on the team.”

Lemons said she doesn’t have to be on the field to be a leader, noting that continuing to put on the uniform and be in the dugout emphasizes her dedication.

“It just shows you what a great kid and what a great teammate she is. It’s the we before me mentality,” he said. “She’s watching the other pitcher, players on the other team, picking up things that can help her team win.”

Her time as a Ladycat comes to a close this weekend. Beaty’s memories and accomplishments, on and off the field, are many, including being a member of the National Honor Society and being named academic all-state. She has also performed musical theatre, something she said she might take another crack at in college.

“It’s still a passion of mine. I love music of all types. I even play guitar a little,” she said.

And, of course, there’s the friendship memories. One of her longtime friends, in fact, is going to be her roommate at UMHB, soccer player Addy Hunstable. Both are going to be psychology majors.

“My whole friend group, we’ve stayed together. We still eat lunch together,” she said. “Something like those friendships is super rare. I’m just so thankful for those memories.”

And the memories of her Pawpaw and Hunter will be with her for the rest of her life.

“Me, him and Hunter were inseparable. He’d pick us up from school, we’d play catch. He was like my first catching coach,” she said. “Mostly, he was just a great man. I want to carry on his legacy, be that influence for my kids and grandkids that he is for me.”


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