Keaton Kringlen likes to smile.
It’s not uncommon to spot him laughing in the dugout or telling a joke in the outfield, but just because he’s smiling doesn’t mean he isn’t about to wow the crowd with an impressive play on the field.
Whether it’s making a diving catch in the bottom of the ninth, or blasting three home runs in a single game, Kringlen seems to spark the BYU baseball team with his electric playing style.
“Keaton plays the game the right way,” BYU head baseball coach Mike Littlewood said. “It’s not just the power, but he has lightning hands. His attitude and the way he approaches the game is contagious. Maybe that is what this team has been looking for.”
The Cougars struggled in the beginning of the season — losing four games by one run — and couldn’t put together a solid win streak, but the season turned around for BYU 20-13, 9-3 in West Coast Conference, when the Cougars took down their arch rival, University of Utah, 11-6 on March 28.
Kringlen was an instrumental part of that victory, driving in three runs.
When BYU faced WCC foe St. Mary’s, Kringlen hit four home runs (and inside-the-park go-ahead homer in game one, and three shots in game three) later that week. He drove in 11 runs, and the Cougars swept the Gaels.
He finished that week hitting .571 and driving in 14 runs.
Kringlen was named the WCC Player of the Week for his outstanding performance that week. He followed up the honor by receiving a National Player of the Week honor bestowed by BaseballNews.com, The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, College Sports Madness and “Collegiate Baseball Magazine.”
Kringlen said the awards are nice, but he’s looking to stay focused on the next game.
“My job is to come out and compete as hard as I can,” Kringlen said. “Fortunately for me I have been able to do that and the awards have come, which is great for last week and this week, but I have to focus on next week. I need to forget about the past and focus on the future.”
Kringlen said he had no idea what he would have done if he had known how great of a week it was going to be.
“Going into the weekend, I probably had the worst batting practice of my life,” Kringlen said. “You want to feel good going into the game, but sometimes it doesn’t happen until you’re in the box.”
His teammates said Kringlen has a positive attitude.
“He is always goofing around and having fun,” teammate Colton Shaver. “A lot of the guys have fun when Keaton is around, a lot of pushing and shoving and horseplay. We get a few bumps and bruises every once in a while, but it’s all in good fun, and it helps us relax.”
Littlewood said Kringlen brings a good attitude to the dugout.
“He’s just a gamer. He comes ready to play every single day,” Littlewood said. “I know no matter what that he is going to run full speed on a pop fly.”
Kringlen said he attributes his all-out effort to his love for the game.
“I’ve loved it since I was a little kid,” Kringlen said. “My first word was ball, so that tells you I’ve got to love it.”
The Cougars have gone 10-2 and are still rolling since Kringlen’s monster week. Nobody knows how far BYU could go this season, but no matter what happens, one thing is for sure: Kringlen will still be smiling.