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Catching Has Allowed Moniteau’s Keagan Book to Open a New Chapter in His Baseball Life, Earn College Opportunity at Westminster

WEST SUNBURY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — When Keagan Book was a young baseball player, he was something of a drifter.

He hopped from position position. A nomad. Never staying in one place for long.

Then when he was 10, one of his travel team coaches wanted to try an experiment by putting Book at catcher.

Book strapped on the shin guards, pulled on the chest protector and helmet and crouched behind the plate.

He had finally found his home. His calling.

(Pictured above, Moniteau’s Keagan Book/submitted photo)

“I never looked back,” said Book, who will be a senior at Moniteau High School this year. “That’s all I’ve been working on. I really fell in love with it, being involved in every single play, having a connection with your pitchers and just being able to see the whole field.”

The position was a perfect fit for the outgoing Book, who is a good communicator and leader.

He’s also shown his toughness in playing one of the most physically demanding positions on the baseball field.

“Lots of ice packs,” he said, laughing. “You just keep pushing, keep working with a pitcher, making sure you block everything. Just staying in the game, even if you’re hurting. I’m trying to win every second.”

Book has developed into one of the best catchers in District 9, both defensively and offensively.

Book hit .435 with four doubles, two triples, a pair of home runs and 20 RBIs while playing half his games in cavernous Michelle Krill Memorial Field at Historic Pullman Park as a junior for the Warriors.

He helped Moniteau pull out of a mid-season skid in time to go on a playoff run. The Warriors beat Cranberry before falling to Redbank Valley in the D9 playoffs.

“It’s always nice when you have a good season. It’s a good feeling to help the team,” Book said. “The team did have some ups and downs, but I’d say it was a positive year.”

With a slew of talent back next season, including three of its top four pitching arms, Moniteau should be in position to compete for a district title.

That’s the hope for Book, anyway.

“I think we have a shot,” he said.

Book will be playing with less pressure bearing down on him next spring.

(Book behind the plate for Moniteau)

Book committed last week to play college baseball at Westminster.

It was a goal of his to play college baseball for several years. And he put everything he had into achieving it.

“I’ve played baseball since I was six years old. I’ve played travel ball since I was seven years old,” Book said. “At around 13 or 14 is when I said, ‘I’m gonna go for college baseball and really put my heart and grind into it, trying to get to that point.’ When it finally came, it was awesome. It was definitely an emotional feeling.”

Book took that pursuit seriously.

When he was younger, he also played basketball and soccer. He also got into golf, but decided not to play any of those sports in high school so he could focus on playing baseball exclusively.

All with the desire to put on a college uniform in mind.

It worked out for Book, who said he had several suitors during the recruiting process.

“It was stressful at the very start,” Book said. “We went on a visit (to Westminster) early and to a couple other schools. Westminster was one of the nicer ones that I liked the most. I could see myself there.”

When it came time to chose, Book had no hesitation.

“Well, (Westminster) checked all the boxed for college,” he said. “The academics are good. The coaches had a real strong bond. The baseball is good. It’s close to home, where I can go off on my own and still come home.”

Book is finishing up his summer season with the Pittsburgh Spikes.

“Just playing baseball for fun now and not having to worry about as much,” he said. “The coaches for the Spikes are very, very good. They helped me a lot. Their practices are very good.”

Book is already think ahead to his college days and what he needs to do to be in a position to get on the field as soon as possible at Westminster.

He is hitting the weight room. Hard. Trying to add muscle to his 5-foot-9 frame.

Book has also been able to find some balance.

The fear sometimes in committing to one sport so completely, or as Book said, “putting your blood, sweat and tears into it,” is burnout.

Book has found ways to mitigate that.

“When I was younger, I played every single day, which was a lot,” he said. “But now I’m getting older I don’t play every day, which helps me to not get burned out. Hunt a little bit. Fish. Being in the outdoors. Definitely golfing with my friends helps keep from from burning out.”

But is Book a good golfer?

Well, maybe it’s a good thing he’s playing baseball in college.

“Um,” Book said, pausing to let out a soft chuckle. “I have a baseball swing. If you’re looking for the nastiest slice, you found the right person.”