Overbrook's Coleman takes his swings

Posted: March 27, 2012

TWO GAMES into his senior baseball season for Overbrook High, Shafeeq Coleman is batting 1.000. In terms of experiencing crazy situations, that is.

No. 2 came Tuesday in a Public C game vs. Olney Charter, played at Belmont Plateau, that didn't end until 6:41. The starting time of 4:05 was 50 minutes late, in part because one of Olney's first-year coaches drove the 15-passenger van to 'Brook instead of Belmont.

"I was shocked," Coleman said. "I didn't expect that from Olney . . . Everybody gets lost sometime. I didn't get frustrated waiting around, though. When you're playing baseball, the last thing you can do is be mad."

No. 1 unfolded last Friday when the Panthers visited Southern.

In the same inning, the 6-5, 280-pound Coleman, who pitches and catches and is expecting to play first base in college, smashed a line drive off the throwing arm of Southern's pitcher.

In that same frame, with the bases loaded and 'Brook looking to expand a five-run lead, Coleman again strolled to the plate against the replacement hurler. He was issued an intentional walk.

"Give a guy a walk with the bases loaded? I couldn't believe that one," he said, laughing. "I didn't think I was considered that good of a hitter. When I asked the coach about it, he said they'd rather give up one run than four.

"The line drive off the pitcher's arm, that was a bullet. It just shot off the bat. I was upset by it. Almost got thrown out at first. After the game I shook his hand, but he couldn't move it. So I shook his other hand."

As neat as those stories are, they pale in comparison with Coleman's top-shelfer, which goes back to his days as 12-year-old baseball neophyte.

"I tried all kinds of sports when I was little," he said. "Didn't really like any of them. Then somebody talked me into playing baseball. I picked up a bat and hit a ball as far as I could. I've loved the game ever since.

"In my first game I would have had three home runs, but I got called out because I slung the bat. I didn't know any better. Even after they told me the rule, I couldn't help it. I didn't know how to hold onto the bat . . . By the second game I got the hang of it."

Tuesday, honestly, Coleman did not slap together a vintage performance in Overbrook's 10-7 win.

Teammates were oohing and aahing like crazy during batting practice as Coleman sent deep bolts to all sectors. But in the game, he went 1-for-3 with a nothing-special, groundball single; he was also plunked by a pitch.

Coleman spent the first 4 innings behind the dish as the batterymate for junior lefthander Yvon "Buddy" Dessus.Coleman then moved to the mound and recorded six outs on whiffs.

One problem: He also walked seven, surrendered four runs and hurt himself with an errant throw on a pickoff that allowed two runners to score.

Coleman replaced Dessus with two out and runners on first and third. Overbrook led, 8-3.

As Coleman blew away Eric Hernandez, who pitched impressively in relief, one of his sub teammates bellowed, "That's smoke, right there! You don't see the fire?"

The funny comments kept flowing over the last two innings.

"You gonna have a swollen hand when this one's over!" Dessus, stationed at first base, yelled in to catcher David Dorsey, who belted a double and homer for three RBI. Another time Dessus roared, "He swung when the ball was in the glove!" Someone else added, "They can't hit what their eyes can't see."

Of his shaky outing, Coleman said, "I was trying to kill the ball instead of just putting it in play. Too anxious. A couple times I had him at 2-0 or 2-1 and thought I was going to get a fastball. He snapped off a curve.

"Pitchingwise, I thought Buddy was going to finish the game. My control's usually pretty good. I don't know what was up."

'Brook coach Phil Beauchemin calls Coleman his best-ever player, as well as a great leader, and is spreading the word far and wide. "In college," he said, smiling, "I picture him playing first base and hitting .800."

Said Coleman: "I like getting to the opposing pitcher the best. When you get that big hit, there's this rush. Pitching's OK, with striking people out, but when you hit one and you know you really touched it, nothing like it."

Markee Scott, the No. 9 hitter, added two singles for three RBI for 'Brook, Brandon Hines poled an RBI double and Nasir Collins doubled and tripled. Dessus, a lefty, fanned eight and picked off three runners. Coleman, of Media near 67th, holds an offer from Harford Community College in Bel Air, Md., and wants to major in sports medicine.

"Even if I don't make it in the game, I want to stay around it as a trainer," he said. "I just love baseball."

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