Summer 2024

'Child of God' Drew Beam pitches for Tennessee & his sister at College World Series

The field at the Men’s College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, has been whittled down to two: No. 3 Texas A&M and No. 1 Tennessee. With each team winning on Wednesday, both the Aggies and Volunteers advanced to the best-of-three series, where a national champion will be crowned. Game 1 is Saturday.

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Tennessee now boasts an impressive 58-12 record on the season and is the first No. 1 national seed to advance to the championship series since 2009. The Vols lead the nation with 178 home runs and are the first team in Division-I history to have five players with 20 or more homers.

Yet in order to seal the deal in the championship series and capture the program’s first national title, they will need the talented right arm of junior pitcher Drew Beam against a Texas A&M team averaging 11 runs per game in the postseason.

The 6-foot-4, 208-pound Beam is a fixture in the Vols’ pitching rotation, having started 18 games (tied for the team high) and leading the team with 98.1 innings pitched. He’s accumulated a 9-2 record with a 4.30 ERA and has allowed only 25 walks compared to his 92 strikeouts. He’s appeared once already in Omaha, against North Carolina, when he pitched for five innings and allowed four hits and one run while striking out seven in the 6-1 win.

Overall, Beam’s three successful seasons in Knoxville have landed him as the 63rd best collegiate prospect in next month’s MLB draft, according to Beam’s time with the Volunteers has coincided with some of the best seasons in program history, and he’s been a perfect piece to help make those seasons happen.

Yet for Beam and his family, his 16-year-old sister, Carlee, claims she’s the reason her brother landed in the perfect spot at Tennessee.

Carlee was 7 years old at the time, watching Drew at the ballpark, when she made friends with another little girl, Hannah, whose brother played for another team. Thanks to Carlee and Hannah, the families got to know each other, and through that connection, Drew was given an opportunity to play at Viper Baseball Academy in Huntsville, Alabama.

It was at Viper that the Tennessee coaching staff first saw Drew play.

“That was God’s plan,” Drew told the Knoxville News Sentinel last month of his sister’s role in him ending up a Volunteer. “That is what we will go with.”

Carlee is now 16 and one of the most personable, vivacious and devoted fans of Tennessee baseball. She’s used a wheelchair since she was 3, due to having a genetic disease known as spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) that affects the central nervous system. It’s a disorder that causes muscles to not receive signals and thus not develop properly. There is no known cure.

Carlee, who was first diagnosed at 2 years old, has a type of SMA that prevents her from walking and reduces life expectancy. Yet it has not prevented her from making friends with all of Drew’s teammates and coaches, and attending every game she can. Before games, at her regular spot on the concourse, other players’ families regularly come up to speak to her. After games, she often makes her way to the field to chat with her “big ole orange family.”

Carlee and Drew, as sister and brother, have a unique bond. Drew was only 7 when Carlee was first diagnosed. Now 21, Drew continues to be inspired by Carlee’s grace in living with SMA.

Before his sophomore season, Drew designed a glove with a distinctive purple color — the color for SMA awareness.

“God has given him a heart for his littler sister,” the siblings’ mother, Kelli, told the Knoxville News Sentinel.

That purple glove, which means so much to him, remains in his locker. He says he’ll never get rid of it.


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“People have just loved on her,” Kelli said of Carlee. “It is just continuing to show that no matter where she is and whatever she is doing, she can be the light. That is what I tell my kids all the time. … People are going to hopefully see the Lord in you but they are also going to see that you have joy in your heart.”

Drew describes himself as a “Child of God” in his Instagram bio and often wears an “I am Second” bracelet and a cross necklace. Of course, he wears an SMA-awareness bracelet too when he’s not on the mound.

As Drew and his teammates prepare to face conference foe Texas A&M with a national championship on the line, he will seek to be a light for God and for the SMA community. He knows Carlee will be.

Game 1 of the best-of-three series in Omaha is scheduled for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET and Game 2 will be on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. If necessary, Game 3 will be on Monday at 7 p.m. ET.

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