Redshirt Sophomore Trey Keegan develops his skills under Danny Schmitz, moves to the top of baseball teams depth chart

From the little boy who just enjoyed hitting the ball and running around with his dad to a leader of a division-I baseball program, Trey Keegan is a bit different than most.

Repeatedly referred to as a “goofy” and outgoing individual, Keegan’s personality is not just seen but heard.

As his teammates walk up to bat to various songs, whether it’s country, rap, rock, among others, Keegan mixes it up and walks up to Shake It Off by Taylor Swift and All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor.

Exotic choices for personal music to get him ready, but Keegan hasn’t chosen them without good reason.

Some may argue it’s to be different, others to be funny, but Keegan just wants to relax.

“I’ve always been more of an upbeat, fun kind of guy. If I take [baseball] too serious then I’m not having fun,” Keegan said of his choices for walk-up music. “[The songs] relax me, I sing them when I walk up. It’s really just a mental thing.”

Playing the sport he has loved for as long as he can remember, he doesn’t want to stop enjoying the game.

But all jokes aside — as tough as that may be for Keegan — he has relentlessly worked to improve his craft on the baseball diamond and continues to do so in hopes of continuing his dream.

“If I had the opportunity to go to the draft and to get drafted to a pro team, that’s something that every little kid dreams of,” said Keegan. “That’s what we all are here for. That’s why we are here — to play pro baseball.”

The road hasn’t been as easy as Keegan might make it seem.

Coming out of high school, the tools — his elite arm strength and overall athleticism — he has displayed during the current baseball season are the tools that head coach Danny Schmitz envisioned when he scouted Keegan.

“What you’re seeing now is exactly what we saw and what we were hoping to see once [Keegan] stepped foot on campus,” Schmitz said.

But it took a couple years to see the tools translate on the field.

Going to Ohio Dominican University directly after high school, Schmitz eventually recruited Keegan to the University. He attended BGSU’s Firelands campus for a year before transferring into the main campus.

At this time Keegan was allowed the opportunity to get back on the field and compete at the sport he loved.

But the helmet could hardly fit his head.

Thinking he was the star of the team, Keegan struggled to fit in.

“My first year I was trying to prove myself, but I thought I was the stuff,” he said. “I thought I was the next big thing.”

Reality hit when he was asked to try a new position. Attempting to give third base a go, errors eventually led to his transition back to strictly catching and pitching.

But turmoil struck again.

Keegan tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow just a few weeks into his second season, requiring him to have Tommy John surgery and miss the entire year.

“I was to the point where I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to throw again,” Keegan said. “When you start your throwing program, you’re like ‘wow this feels weird, it kind of hurts,’ and there comes points where you’re like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this anymore,’ but it’s so rewarding at the end.”

As Keegan made it back for the first game of the 2014 season, again, his chances to play were limited. Catchers Jeremy Shay and Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year TJ Losby were ahead of him on the depth chart.

“As soon as [Keegan] came in you saw the potential,” said Losby. “It was nice to see him learn from [Jeremy Shay and I] and try to take some of that. Now this year you’re seeing what he’s been able to do.”

Keegan never stopped working though. Always asking questions, looking for ways to improve, Keegan never failed to impress his peers.

“Every once in a while he’d pull Jeremy Shay or I aside and just ask about a previous game that he had or a previous play that he saw and I thought that was very mature, especially of an underclassmen, to pull a senior aside and ask questions,” Losby said. “He was always willing to learn and wanting to learn.”

Forced into that learning role, Keegan eventually ensured that he came out a better player for it.

“It all goes back to the coaching and them installing it into my hard head,” Keegan joked.

“We knew with the departure of those two guys that Trey really needed to step up big this year and he’s done that and more. He’s a heck of a gentleman, but he’s a heck of a competitor too,” Schmitz said.

“They really worked me; they made me want to be better than them,” Keegan said of Shay and Losby. “I had to sit and wait my turn. I learned a lot from them and now we are where we are.”

Where he is now is atop the roster for the BGSU

baseball team.

Keegan is the only player on the team to start all 43 games this season. He is leading the team with a .327 batting average and 30 RBIs, while striking out just 11 times. Keegan also leads the team in doubles with 11 and is second on the team with four homeruns.

“To be able to come back from that type of injury and be able to produce at the level he is, says a lot about him growing up as a baseball player and it says a lot about his work ethic,” said senior pitcher Jason Link, his current teammate and former roommate on campus.

But offense isn’t even what he prides himself on the most, or where his significant

value lies.

“I do pride myself as a defensive catcher, that’s where my, I guess my worth, really lies,” Keegan said.

From behind the plate, Keegan has committed just two errors while throwing out nearly 53 percent of would-be base stealers.

“You have a kid from a defensive standpoint, who is outstanding,” Schmitz said. “Whether it’s receiving, blocking and obviously the arm. He can control the running game by his arm.”

Technically in his fourth year at BG despite being listed as a redshirt-sophomore, Keegan has embraced his role as a leader.

“TJ [Losby] and Jeremy [Shay] took Trey under their wing and Trey’s returning the favor by doing that with Tyler [Greiner] and Justin Mott,” Schmitz said. “Catching is a leadership position and I think Trey has done an outstanding job.”

He hasn’t embraced this role without change however. Formerly an in-your-face type of leader who would get mad, irritated and frustrated, Keegan now understands how to keep the game light.

“Being a leader is not all about jumping someone for doing something wrong, it’s also about being up on people who are doing good,” Keegan said. “I talk a lot as a person and I’m not shy at all. But as a leader I try to lead more by example. By playing hard by getting hype on big moments.”

This has been an integral part of not only his success, but the team’s success too.

“You always need those types of players on teams to keep it light,” Link said. “Baseball is a game full of failures and you just have to be able to keep it light-hearted. If you’re too serious it can drive you crazy. He keeps things cool and calm, so you don’t stress out too much.”

But through all of the ups and downs, the unusual journey he has been through, Keegan really has just one mission: To win.

“Winner,” Link said of Keegan in one word. “[Keegan’s] a goofy, all-around great player, but the guy likes to win. He’s out there everyday competing because he wants to win.”

“Hitting out of the three-hole it does kind of get tense when you’re in the big at bat, but when you deliver it’s fun,” Keegan said. “Getting that big moment. There is so much adrenaline and it’s so much fun. That’s all baseball is — it’s just going out there and having fun.”

Sticking to baseball entirely as he grew up, Keegan enjoys the game as much now as he ever did, he said.