Recently, RHP Keegan Allen transferred from 2022 College World Series runner-up Oklahoma to WVU. It was a decision that came down to playing time and his feel for the atmosphere of the program at WVU.
“I don’t want to say anything bad about Oklahoma because I like a lot of the guys who go there,” said Allen. “but it was definitely more of a business-run program. It just wasn’t the right fit for me.
“At West Virginia, I know the coaches already know me and I haven’t even stepped on campus yet. They call and talk to me. It was more of a, ‘you were a member of Oklahoma’.”
Allen spoke at lengths about the family-vibe he gets from WVU and how much of a factor it played in his decision. Describing them in one answer as “A great group of guys, very genuine and they seem like they actually care about the players instead of just winning and being a power program.”
In another he remembered watching their energy level in the dugout from their game against Oklahoma. Saying that they looked like a tight-knit group of guys, laughing and having fun. It seemed like everyone supported one another.
”It’s hard to find a program where you have guys who support the guys on the field and usually the team with the most energy finds a lot of success during the game,” said Allen.
Even his answer to a question on whether Alek Manoah’s recent major league success played a factor in his decision to come to WVU he turned into praise on the family vibe the program gives off. Saying he remembers watching Manoah be interviewed on draft day from his coach’s house. That stood out to Allen.
”He must’ve cared a lot about the program and his coaches to spend one of the biggest days of his life at his coach’s house instead of being in Miami,” said Allen. “And everyone I talked to said that’s a great place to play. The coaches are really genuine and they care about the players.
“That was a big decider for me. Obviously if the coaches care about you that helps you develop and be the player you want to be.”
The family vibe is what drew him to WVU from Oklahoma. A personal touch from the coaching staff where they see you as a person instead of just another member of the program. A more family atmosphere instead of a business-run program he felt was the case at Oklahoma.
But it wasn’t just the atmosphere that drew him here, but also the opportunity to pitch in what he sees as a great program.
“I definitely thought that there’d be a whole lot more opportunity at West Virginia,” said Allen. “I thought there was a lot more of an ability to compete there for me. The facilities are incredible, they all seem brand new. And the pitching technology is insane. They got pretty much everything you can need from a development perspective.”
Opportunity is another thing he felt lacked at Oklahoma. While Allen admits that he was just a freshman and a lack of opportunity in one’s first-year is normal, he felt that the team went away from him after he suffered a bicep tendonitis injury.
Allen made his debut for Oklahoma on March 3 against UCLA and pitched one inning with the only stat of note being a hit batsman. 11 days later he made his second appearance against Air Force and in an inning of work gave up a double, but no runs and had two strikeouts.
After that he never went more than eight days without an appearance until a game against Texas in which he gave up one run and a walk in a 12-8 loss. He wouldn’t appear in the next five games (11 days) until the team played Pacific. In that 7-3 he gave up two runs on a third of an inning pitched.
He’d be shutdown for the next two weeks plus, not appearing again until May 3 against Dallas Baptist where he surrendered three earned runs in two-thirds of an innings pitched during a 10-1 upset loss. That was the last inning he pitched of his Oklahoma career.
He finished his Oklahoma stat line with seven innings pitched across nine games with eight strikeouts, five walks and a 9.00 era.
“I had a good time at Oklahoma,” said Allen. “I definitely think if I didn’t get hurt, it would’ve gone a lot differently. But that’s how it played out. I got a little bicep tendinitis that put me out for a week or two.
“I was regularly in the rotation, for the whole year, until I got hurt. Then I got back from the bicep tendonitis after about two weeks and I guess my opportunities were gone after that. And they kind of just moved on. It was a good experience, I was hoping for a little bit more. But it was freshman year also, so it does happen.”
Allen went to Oklahoma as a highly-touted pitching prospect from Arkansas, the No. 2 rated prospect in the state by Perfect and No. 68 rated right handed pitching prospect by Prep Baseball Report.
He spent his junior year at IMG Academy, but went back to his home school due to COVID. He attended Betonville High School and put up a 1.74 ERA as a pitcher and a .408 batting average as a hitter. He actually intended to pitch and play the outfield at Oklahoma, but has since only focused on pitching in college.
Focusing on his pitches, he throws a four-seam fastball, a slider, a two-seam change-up and a sinker. He describes his slider as his best pitch while hoping to improve his sinker.
“I just started throwing that to make it my fourth pitch in my arsenal,” said Allen. “Improving my sinker will be a big help for me if I want to get drafted where I want to get drafted.”
Off-the-field, he fits in perfectly in the culture of West Virginia. Not just the family aspect, but he is an outdoorsman. He loves to hunt ducks and fish. During the pandemic, he would fish everyday once his school work was done. His best catch is an eight-pound striped bass from Beaver Lake in Arkansas.
Now though, his focus is on helping WVU get to the College World Series. He got to experience that with Oklahoma last year, albeit from the dugout, but he believes this group of guys at WVU can do it as well.
He’s also looking forward to that game against Oklahoma as well.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Allen. “I’m really excited for it, actually. I wouldn’t say it was a big factor (in staying in the Big 12), but it was definitely on the back of my mind for sure.”