When she's not toeing the rubber for Daniel Boone, Bekah Slattery is living the life of a normal teenager — albeit with less leisure time than most considering her devotion to softball — calling drawing her No. 1 hobby.
Slattery, never one to gloat about personal conquests and achievements, remained modest, revealing that she is only "somewhat artistic.'
However, what she did in the circle donning the blue and black of the Blazer uniform was sheer artistry.
In the circle, Slattery was the Vincent Van Gogh of the 21st Century, painting the corners of the plate with her arcing curveball and her devastating screwball.
She produced masterpieces in the circle as she utilized her six-pitch arsenal to great effect, finishing with a 22-2 record, 0.27 ERA and school-record 281 strikeouts while leading her team to a Berks Conference runner-up finish and an appearance in the quarterfinals in the District 3-AAAA playoffs.
For her efforts in 2014, Slattery earns Mercury All-Area Player of the Year Honors for the second consecutive year.
"Winning the award for the second consecutive year is really a great honor,' Slattery said after throwing a makeshift bullpen session. "Winning it one year was pretty cool but winning it another is even better because it's just a great feeling that I was able to impress people again and they liked what they saw.'
"What an honor. What an extreme honor,' head coach Traci Huddleson said. "There are so many fantastic athletes locally; to be named two years in a row is a tremendous honor.'
Slattery also received statewide recognition, garnering the Pennsylvania Coaches Association Class AAAA Co-Player of the Year honors, an award she shares with Avon Grove ace Maggie Balint.
She follows in the footsteps of former Blazer and current West Chester pitcher Katie Erb, who took home the All-Area top prize in 2011 and 2012.
And like Erb, Slattery's artistry, her ability to mix up pitches in different counts, led her to a scintillating junior season.
"It's like a chess match when you're pitching,' Slattery said. "It comes down to what pitch you're going to throw and when you're going to throw it. For me, I'm confident in all my pitches.'
Slattery's ability to keep hitters off balance has been her greatest attribute after earning the nod to pitch in her sophomore year. That year she finished with a 14-3 record, 220 strikeouts and a meager 1.21 ERA. Her junior year only spelled more success.
Beside her school record and area-high 281 strikeouts, the left hander's effectiveness in the circle helped lead her team to a undefeated regular season and a berth into the District 3-AAAA quarterfinals, eventually falling to Cumberland Valley to end their quest for a second-straight PIAA appearance.
However, despite not making it to states, Slattery chalked up her junior season as a successful one.
"We were hoping to get back there (states), but what we did this year in going undefeated in our regular season, that was enough to check our season off as a good one,' Slattery said. "I was disappointed we got eliminated but all in all it was a good season.'
It was a successful season that saw Slattery become more of a leader after learning the ropes under first-year head coach Huddleson in her sophomore season. She was one of the four Blazers named captain this season (Savannah Toth, Nicole Kovach, Megan Piccarreta) and one of two juniors to hold the position (Toth).
"She was a natural leader in the team room and the classroom and on the field,' Huddleson said. "With graduating so many players last season, we looked to many of our underclassmen to step up as a leader, and Bekah stepped up. She always helped her teammates and helped the younger plays develop their skills and become a part of the Blazer family.'
It was a family that helped develop the moniker of "We Believe' throughout the course of the season, a motto that carried Slattery through each of her pitches.
"I knew that I could get anyone out when I wanted,' Slattery said. "I believed that my teammates would make the plays behind me, all I had to do was throw strikes. It all worked out for us.'
The defense didn't need to make many plays behind her in the Berks conference quarterfinals as she fanned 17 in a dominating victory over Conrad Weiser before striking out 14 in a 2-0 loss to Brandywine Heights in the Berks Conference final.
Her true artistic touch came when blending her screwball — an out pitch that tailed away from right-handed hitters — with her curveball — a pitch that broke in on right-handed hitters, forcing many weak hits the opposite way. Coupled with a blazing heater, a tricky rise, changeup and a drop pitch (equivalent of baseball's sinker), Slattery held six ways she could strike a batter out — and she used all of them.
"The screwball is one of my favorite pitches to throw because I'm good at it. The way it cuts across the plate, it cuts across as a strike because it cuts off right at the corner,' Slattery said. "It's a hard pitch to hit, like the curve, because of how and when it breaks.
"I have two fastballs that I use, the 4-seam and the 2-seam, and I love using the drop pitch,' she continued. "It's one of those pitches that I like to use because hitters don't expect the pitch to drop as much as it does. It drops right out of the strike zone and I get a lot of people to swing and miss.'
And with all the pitching accolades, Slattery was equally as impressive in the batter's box. After hitting .519 with a .734 slugging percentage and 41 base hits in her sophomore campaign, this spring she boasted a team-high .506 average with a .843 slugging percentage, 30 runs scored and 28 RBI. It is just one facet of the game that she continues to work on.
"I wanted to work on my hitting for this year and do my job, get on base and score some runs,' Slattery said. "I did well but there's always room to improve. I just have to keep working and keep getting better and better.'
"Bekah's work ethic remained impeccable on and off the field this year,' Huddleson said. "She's still a student of the game. She's always willing to learn.'
For Slattery, the most exciting fact about winning her second straight All-Area award is that she has one more season to go, one more season to mature and one more season to break her own records.
"It feels good. It's exciting to know that I have one more year,' Slattery said. "I can try to break my own record again, which would be pretty cool. I love playing in a Blazer uniform. It's something about playing in those colors, just something about playing for your school is a good feeling.'
"Look for her to continue representing her school, her team and her community with the same pride she's exhibited throughout her career at Daniel Boone,' Huddleson added.
For opposing hitters, it's just one more year of looking foolish in the batter's box as the artist goes to work.
Follow Sam Stewart on Twitter @Samuel_Stewart7