Keehn looks to continue success in baseball program

 Head baseball coach Mike Keehn talks to designated hitter Jake Sloan before he goes to bat in the game against Missouri Western.

by Matt Wilson Staff Writer

 Mike Keehn is starting his fourth season at UNA as the head baseball coach. After 20 seasons as an assistant coach under Mike Lane, Keehn is continuing the success of UNA’s baseball program. Coming off a season where the Lions finished 37-14 and reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999, Keehn has quickly reached a high level as a coach and looks to continue building UNA’s baseball program in the future. 

Q: After 20 seasons as an assistant coach at UNA, how did that help you when you took over as the head coach?

A: It was a good preparation. Over time, I was given more and more responsibilities, and I was learning all the little things that I needed to take into account as the head coach.

Q: What is your main approach to recruiting? What helps you the most at UNA with recruiting?

A: Obviously, we try and get the best players, and it’s no secret that we try and have a lot of speed in our lineup. We look for kids that want to be successful both on and off the field. We like to see how a kid plays the game—if he is going to be aggressive and give it everything. As far as what helps with recruiting, the town and school are great recruiting tools. There are a lot of great things about the school, including our baseball facilities. Not everyone will be playing baseball after school, and a degree from UNA will take them wherever they want to go.

Q: What can you attribute to your success both as an assistant coach and now as head coach here at UNA?

A: Room for error is much less now. Our conference and region is more balanced—it used to be top heavy, as far as talent goes. There are no games that you can take lightly. We have to play at a high level each and every game. With that kind of competition, it keeps you having to play hard every game, for an entire season, every season. That keeps us getting better.

Q: What motivates you?

A: Obviously, trying to win championships, and when you have a team that buys into what we are trying to do, then that motivates me to do the best for them. The players on my team that are giving it their all motivate me.

Q: If you had to choose between a big batter in your lineup or a pitcher that cannot be touched, which would you choose?

A: That’s not a tough question, really. I’d take the pitcher that can’t be touched. Hitting is very spotty even by the best hitter. As a team, though, you can scratch out some runs if you have a pitcher like that going out for you that day. A pitcher with great stuff makes your team more relaxed and confident.

Q: Favorite things about UNA or Florence?

A: My family and I love Ricatoni’s. Every time my daughter comes home, that is the first place she wants to go. But I enjoy going to other UNA sporting events and—on rare occasions when I have a day off—I like to take it easy with my family.

Q: Are you a gum or sunflower seed guy?

 A: Actually, neither. Gum maybe every once in a while. Most of the time, I have a clipboard, and I’m keeping up and charting what we did and what worked and what didn’t.