USF’s Bethaney Keen was born to lead on and off the softball field

Star first baseman is always hard to miss on the diamond

Bethaney Keen at USF Softball Stadium after a 1-0 win vs Penn State. Daniel Rainbird

TAMPA, Fla. — Bethaney Keen nearly quit softball at 12-years-old because she was dead-set on becoming Major League Baseball’s first female pitcher.

Her dream obviously never came true, but that strong will and determination has made her a natural born leader throughout her career.

She’s been setting the bar for her teams since as early as high-school.

“BK was always pushing others to be at their best,” said Braden River High School coach Melissa Dowling. “Her teammates worked hard, because she worked hard.”

Keen is a vocal player, constantly encouraging and communicating with her teammates from her position at first-base. She conducts herself with a lot of confidence and says that as a leader, she’s just being herself.

 “I like being outgoing and myself, so I bring that on the field and hopefully it brings other people out of their shell,” said Keen, just minutes after hitting a double deep to right field. “The more I can do that, the better we could be collectively.”

After four successful seasons with the Pirates in high-school, the Bradenton, Fla., native has been playing a key role on the University of South Florida Bulls since 2017. 

As a Freshman she was named to the All-American Athletic Conference All-Rookie Team. In 2018, she was sidelined with broken-hand and spent the season as a redshirt, but the year didn’t go to waste.

“It taught me a lot of things, that I’d never learned before,” said Keen, reminiscing on her injury. “Getting hurt was a blessing in disguise.”

The lefty batter Keen stepping up to the plate vs Penn State on March 11. DANIEL RAINBIRD/TORONTO OBSERVER

She came back and played all 60 games, posting a .283 batting average, 37 RBIs, and four home runs in 2019. This season, she’s batting .288 and has three home runs in 25 games.

As a fourth-year player with the Bulls, her leadership continues to be one of her best traits.

“She’s a very very smart softball player, a very high IQ player,” said Bulls Coach Jessica Moore after a win vs Penn State. “She’s the one who sets the standards of acceptance, and what’s acceptable as we go through practices, training sessions, or games.”

In more recent years, her dream has been to make USA’s softball team, something she had a taste of when she made the junior team in 2017. Despite it still being her goal, satisfaction with her career doesn’t depend on it.

“I think it’s always going to be a dream,” said Keen while standing on the field of USF Softball Stadium. “Now it’s about accepting what could happen in the future and being okay with hanging up the cleats after college, but I’m always going to push for playing internationally.”

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Posted: Mar 17 2020 8:04 pm
Filed under: Softball Sports