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By JOSH CLAYWELL email@example.com
ELIZABETHTOWN — Keegan West has only been playing in the Elizabethtown Area Baseball Commission for three years.
But that was more than long enough for West to make his mark on the league.
West, who plays shortstop and catcher for the Major League Angels, was named the 34th recipient of the Sonny Chaput Award on Monday after Game 1 of the EABC Major League World Series between the Yankees and Braves at Sonny Chaput Field.
“I think it’s a great honor,” West said. “It feels really good to know I got nominated by the coaches in this league that apparently care about me. Anyone in this league could have won it.”
It seems only fitting that West won the award in his final year in the league. West and his family – mom Holly, dad Mark, sisters Lexi (10) and Daisy (2) and brother Kyle (4) – are moving back to West Point, N.Y., next week.
Mark and Holly, who are both lieutenant colonels in the U.S. Army, will teach at the prestigious military academy and Mark will coach football in West Point.
“I’m going to miss this league because it’s a lot better than the West Point league,” West said. “I’m going to miss the baseball down here. I’m going to miss having great coaches and being able to play the game I love in a really good league.”
Mark West was stationed in Saudi Arabia but is currently in West Point getting things ready for the move.
And since he’s been gone, Holly West said Keegan has become the man of the house.
“It’s been pretty tough. Keegan’s definitely stepped up,” Holly West said. “Keegan’s been the man of the house. He’s a good kid. He’s helped me out a lot. The other ones have had to come to all the games, all the late games and stuff, but it’s been worth it. The little ones love coming to Keegan’s games.”
Keegan West, who will be a seventh-grader this fall at West Point Middle School, said the family can’t wait to be reunited with Mark.
“He usually coordinates things around here,” Keegan said. “My mom had to do that now with four kids on her, including me, I guess. I had to ask her to take me everywhere seeing as I had a ton of baseball games and other activities. It’s been tough without him, but also it’s been kind of fun because he doesn’t really get on you anymore.”
Holly West said Keegan has grown and matured in the time Mark has been away.
“I’m very proud of him. I’m just thrilled that he got it,” she said. “We weren’t expecting it at all, but we’re very proud. I got told about a week and a half ago and I told Mark when he was still in Saudi Arabia. He’s back in New York working, so there was no way he could get here for this.”
And while Keegan has enjoyed being the man of the house, he said he can’t wait for his dad to take over those duties again.
“He’s always been a big influence to me. When I go to college, I know I can go without him,” Keegan said. “Most of these sports are really dedicated to him. I usually try to win one for him every season.”
Keegan also plays football and will play both sports in New York. Keegan said he plans on trying out for a travel baseball team after the family gets settled in.
“There’s a really good travel baseball team up there that I’m going to be trying out for,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll get picked for it. Also, I’ll be playing football up there. I can’t wait to start playing up there.”
While he enjoys football, baseball is his first passion.
“Baseball easily. Overall I think I’m better at the game,” he said. “I haven’t played football for that long; I’ve only been playing for three years. Baseball is one of the games I’ve really loved and I think I’ve accomplished a lot in that game.”
The Sonny Chaput Award has been presented annually by the Elizabethtown chapter of the Knights of Columbus since 1975 in honor of Louis “Sonny” Chaput, who was devoted to youth baseball in Elizabethtown. Only EABC Major League players are eligible for the award.
To be considered for the honor, a player must have a good attitude and good sportsmanship, accept decisions of coaches and officials, win without boasting, lose without excuses and show good leadership and good moral standing.
Josh Claywell can be reached at 505-1752