Keaton too much for opponents

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 9, 2001

COAL GROVE – Sometimes Jarrod Keaton tries to do too much.

Wednesday, May 09, 2001

COAL GROVE – Sometimes Jarrod Keaton tries to do too much. Opposing teams think he’s all ready done too much.

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Whether it’s pitching or slugging a home run or driving in runs, Keaton has been a dangerous player to the opposition.

The Coal Grove Hornets senior standout is hitting .448 with eight home runs, 31 runs batted in, seven doubles, a triple, 28 runs scored, 13 walks, only seven strikeouts, a .617 on-base percentage, and a .985 slugging percentage.

For his career, he’s hitting .466 with 25 homers, 110 RBI, 26 doubles, 42 walks, 21 strikeouts in 238 at-bats, 111 hits, a .582 on-base percentage, and a .924 slugging percentage.

"Sometimes I press to do too much, but coach (John) Jones talks to me and tells me to relax and do what I can do," Keaton said.

"I’ve had better years average-wise, but I’ve had a pretty good year. My first couple years I’ve had three or four good hitters around me. That’s what’s helped my hitting my whole career because I’ve had good hitters around me."

Jones said that statistics don’t tell the whole story of what Keaton’s contributions have meant to the Coal Grove program.

"He’s been the most valuable player the last three years," said Jones. "He’s done anything we’ve asked of him. When he’s pitching, he’s going to do anything he can to win the ball game. When it’s crunch time, I’d rather have him at the plate than anyone to win the ball game."

Jones said he knew Keaton was going to be a special kind of player the moment he stepped onto the field his freshman year. He said Keaton had a presence that effected the entire team.

"As a freshman coming in, I said he was the leader of the team as far as trying to get the team going and working hard to win. He’s just always had that mentality to win everything we can," said Jones. "

"He’s the best kid I’ve coached since I’ve been here. Todd Black and Timmy Davidson had a lot of grit, but they had a team of six or seven seniors around them. This is a young team and Jarrod has been asked to do a lot."

Keaton said he has felt the leadership responsibility more this season. In the past, he always knew there were seniors on the team to help carry the burden. All that changed this year.

"It’s been a big step," Keaton said. "I’ve been the one called on. In the past I’ve had good people around me. Being a four-year starter, I’ve tried to take the leadership role."

Keaton said he’s worked on his curveball and added a change-up this season to go with an 85 mile-an-hour fastball.

"My curve is more consistent more. Tim Adkins has worked with me on my curve and my change-up. And coach Jones has helped me a lot with my hitting and talking to schools and doing whatever he can," Keaton said.

Keaton is 9-3 with two saves and a 1.66 earned run average this season. He’s struck out 122 and walked just 12 in 76 innings.

In four years, he is 21-10 with three saves. He has 295 strikeouts and 48 walks in 221 innings with a 2.06 ERA and 149 hits allowed.

Jones said Keaton will be successful if he works fulltime with his pitching at the college level.

"He’s a real bulldog on the mound. He’s very intense. He doesn’t try to pitch around anyone. He’ll challenge someone no matter who it is. He’ll work the corners. We’ve faced guys who have thrown harder, but I’ll take him over anyone we’ve face in terms of determination."

Keaton has been weighing various offers and checking into feelers from other schools. Among his contact list are Berea, Alderson-Broaddus, Morehead State, Shawnee State, West Virginia, and the University of Rio Grande.

"It’s kind of in the cost, but I want to go to a school with a good program," Keaton said. "I want to be able to step in and help, but I don’t care to go to a better program where I can come in and learn.

"Every school I’ve visited I’ve liked. It’s tough making a choice. It’s just going to be where I’m most comfortable."

Each college has had a different need or needs when talking to Keaton. He said some schools want him as a hitter, some as a pitcher, and some want to develop him in both positions.

"It doesn’t matter to me. I’ll do either one," Keaton said. ‘I like hitting, but a lot of people I’ve worked with have said a lefthanded pitcher is something I could be good at. There’s a lot of demand for a lefthanded pitcher."