Keesling Ready to Take Her Last Cuts

Andi Keesling of Thousand Oaks High will amaze you with her blinding home-to-first base speed.

She will baffle you with dead-in-the-dirt bunts and the eight-foot choppers she routinely slaps over the third baseman's head.

The two-sport athlete has made circus catches as a center fielder and thrown out runners at the plate too many times to count.

Keesling, one of the seniors to be featured at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Ventura County Coaches Assn. all-star game at Borchard Park in Newbury Park, has made a career out of, well, a hobby.

Soccer is her sport of choice and not even Keesling's father can talk her out of it.

"It's always been soccer, to my frustration," Ron Keesling said. "I understand softball. I don't understand soccer."

Keesling is headed to University of San Diego on a soccer scholarship and does not plan to play softball.

"I've thought about it," Keesling said. "But it seems overwhelming. I sort of want to concentrate on one sport."

It's easy to understand Keesling's rationale, given her workload the past three months.

She works out with the L.A. Force, a premier club soccer team, year round. She would leave softball practice to make evening soccer practice in the San Fernando Valley three days a week and played tournaments on weekends.

The wear on her body showed during the playoffs when knee pain forced her to stop and regain her composure after sprinting to first base.

"She's been banged up all year," Coach Gary Walin said. "Knees, shins, ankles."

Still, the injuries did little to slow the fleet-footed star.

Keesling, perhaps the region's toughest No. 2 hitter, led Thousand Oaks with a .473 average.

Defensively, Keesling was outstanding.

The catch she made against Don Lugo in a quarterfinal playoff game has already become part of Lancer folklore.

With Don Lugo runners at first and second and two out in the eighth inning of a scoreless game, Keesling made a running back-handed catch deep in left-center field to save what would have been a three-run home run.

"Andi saved my butt," pitcher Nicole Angelo said.

Thousand Oaks scored in the bottom of the inning to win, 1-0, and went on to win the school's first Southern Section championship.

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