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Utah outfielder DaShawn Keirsey Jr. has bounced back in a big way from hip injury to end last season

SALT LAKE CITY — University of Utah outfielder DaShawn Keirsey Jr., has bounced back in a big way since dislocating his hip and suffering a hip socket fracture in last year’s season finale. He crashed into a wall while pursuing what turned out to be a home run by Arizona State.

Keirsey, who has a hit in 15 straight games, ranks among the Pac-12 leaders in various categories, including batting average (.377), doubles (21), hits (65), slugging percentage (.598), and total bases (103).

The two-time first team All-Pac-12 honoree has picked up where he left off after leaving Smith’s Ballpark by ambulance less than a year ago,

“I knew I could come back and do it, but as I was laying there a lot of things were going through my mind,” said Keirsey, who remembers thinking about summer ball and his future at the time. “I was just more scared at the moment.”

However, once the recovery process began, Keirsey was confident he could make it back. He received a boost of confidence just before winter break when he begged Utah coach Bill Kinneberg to let him run the 30 with his teammates. Keirsey wound up matching his time from 2017.

“I just wanted to see where I was and basically I was right where I was the year before,” he said. “ So that was when I kind of realized I can get back.”

The toughest part of his recovery, Keirsey noted, was the mental aspect. The nature of the injuries he suffered were somewhat unique.

“No one really knew if I’d be back just because it’s not an injury you normally see,” Keirsey said. “So I think, definitely, the mental side was the biggest part for me. Luckily I was able to be home, so I had family and loved ones around me the whole summer. So that really helped a whole lot.”

While back in his hometown, Keirsey was able to recover with the assistance of the San Diego Padres' training staff.

“I got hooked up with them. They helped a lot,” he said. “It was nice to be with people who were more baseball-oriented trainers to help me get back.”

Keirsey also kept in touch with Utah trainers on a weekly basis. His teammates also provided support with regular texts and calls to see how he was doing.

“He’s come a long way and it’s great to see,” Kinneberg said of the success Keirsey is having. “We always knew that he could do it. We just didn’t know after the injury.”

Keirsey, though, picked up where he left off. His upward trajectory has continued.

When we got him here three years ago we knew that he was going to be a special player,” Kinneberg said. “And he’s become that, despite the injury.”

The junior, who made the Pac-12’s all-defensive team twice, insists he isn’t taking anything for granted. That’s one of the biggest things Keirsey has taken from the injury situation.

“I just want to enjoy each day with the guys I’ve spent the last five-six months with,” he said. “I just want to enjoy the moment, have fun with these guys and not try to look so far ahead.”

In June, Keirsey will likely be taken in the Major League Baseball draft. He knows people are talking about it, and although he’s excited, there’s also a determination to stay focused on the task at hand.

“I guess we’ll see what happens the beginning of June,” Keirsey said. “I’ll probably talk with parents and all that when the time comes.”

As for now, he’s content.

“I love to be a Ute,” Keirsey said. “I’m glad I made this decision three years ago.”

Utah (13-35, 7-18) will be at Utah Valley on Tuesday. On Friday, the Utes will open their final home series, against Washington. They’ll close things out May 24-26 at Washington State.