Before he won a Central Section championship with Clovis High, before he signed to play baseball at UNLV, Noah Beal was a young ballplayer with a dream.
“I grew up going to Red Bank Elementary and Clark Intermediate, and as a kid, I watched some great Clovis High teams do amazing things,” Beal remembers.
Years later, Beal would do his own amazing thing for the Cougars as a pitcher. He became a 6-foot-4 presence on the mound who, in 2019, started a team-high 12 games and boasted a 7-2 record, 2.79 ERA and 39 strikeouts.
And, of course, Beal swung a big bat as well.
Beal earned a spot in the everyday lineup with his strong hitting, penciled in at first base on days when he was not pitching. In 2019, his batting average was second best on the team at .356, and his 19 RBIs tied for third-most on the team.
Two-way players are nothing new to Clovis High; just think of former Cougar greats like Lee Lambert, Mike Bumatay and McCarthy Tatum. Yet Noah Beal – the same young man who once sat in the stands at Lloyd Merriman Field and lived and breathed Clovis baseball tradition – has left his own indelible mark on the program.
“It’s tough to compare him to anyone else I’ve seen,” Clovis head coach Chris Patrick said. “He’s a power pitcher and power hitter in the same guy.”
The fabled story of Noah Beal begins with a family that carries deep roots in Clovis High athletics. His father, Ryan, played basketball for the Cougars, and Beal had two cousins – McKay and Caden Lyons – play baseball at Clovis High.
For a young Beal, there were plenty of sports to compete in, but only one called his name.
“I played football and basketball growing up, but in the eighth grade, I felt I could be pretty good at baseball,” Beal said. “I was a bit undersized then, but I put myself through it and found the love for it.”
Chris Patrick joined the Clovis baseball staff in Beal’s sophomore year, and witnessed him transform into a two-way star.
“He had a huge growth spurt between his freshman and sophomore year,” Patrick remembers. “Then he made a big step up with his leadership and composure between his sophomore and junior season.”
It all set up for Clovis High’s memorable 2019 season, a year where Beal put up his big numbers and played a key role in the Cougars’ run to the Section title.
“We knew all year we were on the edge of being a great team,” Beal said. “When we played in the Easter Classic and did well, that got our team going.”
Indeed, after the Easter Classic final where Clovis lost to Buhach Colony on April 17, the Cougars won the final four games of the 2019 regular season – including an April 30 matchup at Clovis West that Beal will never forget.
That night, Beal was dealing on the mound against Golden Eagles batters and, halfway through the game, he realized he had a chance at making history.
“In the fifth, it finally hit me that a no-hitter was a possibility,” Beal said.
Only a possibility, however, if Clovis could get a run across the board in a scoreless game. Sure enough, senior catcher – and future MLB draft pick – Darrien Miller slugged a grand slam in the top of the eighth inning, allowing Beal to finish the no-no.
“If we didn’t score, I wouldn’t have gone out in the bottom half of the inning,” Beal recounts. “It all worked out, and it was a crazy experience I don’t know I’ll ever have again.”
Another memorable experience would be in store for Beal just a month later. After the No. 6 seed Cougars defeated Stockdale at home, and Clovis North and San Luis Obispo on the road, they reached Pete Beiden Field at Fresno State to play Frontier in the Central Section final.
Clovis was ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the third inning when rain postponed the final, forcing it to resume the following Wednesday at Clovis High. When the game continued, Beal drove in an RBI and helped the Cougars put away Frontier 14-3 to win a Section championship.
It was a fairytale ending to a dream season for Noah Beal, with the win being even more meaningful that it came in the last season of longtime Clovis head coach James Patrick.
“Coach James Patrick is probably the best coach I’ll ever have,” Beal said. “ “He taught us how to play hard and how to become young men who want to win. Winning it all for him was the highlight of my baseball career.”
Beal was poised to make new highlights in his senior season as, through the first ten games in 2020, he batted .355 and posted a 0.55 ERA on the mound. Among his starts this season was a 5-0 win over Liberty, where Beal hit a two-run home run and pitched six scoreless innings.
Yet the COVID-19 pandemic took a turn for the worse in March, ending Beal’s hot start to 2020 as well as his high school career.
“Having my last season cancelled is brutal, especially not being able to play with my brothers or defend the Valley title,” Beal said. “The positive side is getting to work out and get bigger and stronger. I’m looking forward to college.”
Beal will play college ball in Las Vegas, pitching for Division-I program UNLV and picking up DH duties on his off days.
“The biggest part of the recruiting process is not getting rushed into it and picking somewhere that feels like home, and I felt UNLV was really close to home,” Beal said.
It also helped that UNLV’s pitching coach, Greg Maddux, is an eight-time All-Star, four-time Cy Young Award winner and member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
“I want to learn from Maddux on how to throw my breaking ball a little bit more effectively, and pick his thought process on the mound,” Beal said.
Despite a tough end to his storied career with the Cougars, the future is bright for Noah Beal. Quite fitting for a young man who grew up idolizing Clovis High greats, then became one himself.