116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Decorah’s Keenan Tyler admits he will occasionally glance at statistical rankings.
He gains a little motivation from them. Tyler isn’t consumed with numbers. Just driven to be the best.
“I’m competitive, so that does go through my head,” Tyler said. “There is a competitive factor. I want to be at the top. I like to see that stuff.”
For the second straight season, Tyler has produced a dominant season at the plate. He stayed perched atop Class 3A with a .571 average before Wednesday’s home game against eighth-ranked Independence.
Overall, Tyler is 48 of 84 with 13 doubles and a triple. He owns a team-best .609 on-base percentage and sits third with 22 RBIs. He is tops in 3A in hits, leading Western Dubuque’s Garrett Kadolph by seven, and his 34 singles rank first in the class. Tyler is tied for fourth in doubles, alone in fourth for on-base percentage and fifth with 63 total bases.
“It’s been a good year hitting,” said Tyler, who finished 11th in 3A with a .465 average as a junior. “I’m just hitting the ball well it seems like. We all hit the ball well.”
His competitive streak is also a key factor to production, preventing him from giving in to a pitcher.
“Keenan has a great swing, but what has separated him during his last two years is his relentless desire to compete no matter if he is ahead or behind in the count,” Decorah Coach Adam Riley said. “He is looking to swing the bat for a hit.”
If competition is what he likes, he doesn’t have to look far for it. The Vikings push and try to best each other. Tyler said Noah Storts (.408), Brody Young (.364) and Sam Kleiner (.346) are among a group of seniors that battle among themselves in practice and competition, which makes them all better. Decorah hits .339 as a team.
“I see those guys hitting the ball really hard and that makes me step in there and be like, ‘Now, it’s my turn’ and I have to get to their level and try to do a little better,” Tyler said. “When they’re hitting good, I watch to see what they’re doing.
“If someone hits a double, then when I step in I want to hit a double. If someone hits a home run, I want to step in and hit a home run.”
Confidence and a perfectionist attitude has contributed to his success. If he’s struggling, he often returns to the batting cage in attempts to perfect his swing. Tyler also avoids overthinking, letting his natural athleticism take over and just tries to hit the ball hard.
“He is a great athlete which certainly helps, but the fact that he does appreciate the grind of baseball season and being a student of how teams are trying to pitch him really helps,” Riley said. “The combination of the two have really helped things come together.”
A prime example of his offensive output came in a 14-13 victory over Ottumwa. The Vikings trailed 8-2 at one point. Tyler provided two bases-loaded, bases-clearing doubles with two outs. He finished the game 5-for-5 with seven RBIs and scored twice.
“It was my coolest and best moment in high school,” said Tyler, who has committed to play football for Iowa Western but has reconsidered playing baseball in college. “It was a fun one.
“The team was into it. Everyone was hitting the ball. I had to do what I could to help the team win and that’s really all that matters in the end, if we win or lose. I can go 3-for-3 in a game, but if we lose it doesn’t feel the same. You always want to end on top.”
Mason Behn returns to the mound
Cedar Rapids Kennedy right-hander Mason Behn has overcome injury and returned to the mound. The Cougars senior all-Metro and all-Mississippi Valley Conference selection made his debut last week against Linn-Mar, throwing two innings on a limited pitch count. Behn allowed no runs on one hit and struck out a batter, needing just 23 pitches.
Kennedy won that game, 9-3, and split the doubleheader. Linn-Mar won the nightcap, 1-0, when Matthew Buse scored in the bottom of the eighth.
Wamac teams at Principal Park
The Wamac Conference was represented at Principal Park in Des Moines on Tuesday.
West Delaware played a rare morning game, defeating 1A No. 10 Anita CAM, 7-0, at the home of the Iowa Cubs. South Tama played immediately afterward, losing a hard-fought 7-6 decision to Nevada. Jordan Bly had three hits and Kyler Smith, Ryne Kesl and Logan Schmidt added two apiece for South Tama.