• Keagan Downs (seated, center) signed with the University of Incarnate Word baseball program Tuesday. Joining Downs at the ceremony are (standing, from left) Pleasanton athletic director Tab Dumont, Texas Colts Elite coach Rusty Whittemore, Pleasanton baseball assistant coach Bruce Schorsch, Pleasanton baseball head coach Jeff Niemietz, and (seated, from left) parents Jamie and Stacy Downs.

Pleasanton's Downs signs with UIW baseball

Pleasanton senior Keagan Downs will not have to travel far to realize his longtime dream of playing college baseball.

Downs signed a letter of intent Tuesday morning with the University of Incarnate Word. Surrounded by family, coaches, school administrators, teammates and friends, the Eagles shortstop made the commitment official at a ceremony at the Pleasanton High School field house.

“It feels really good to finally have the journey over to being a college baseball player,” Downs said. “It’s the ultimate goal.”

Downs, who will also play middle infield for the Cardinals, said he has been involved in baseball since he was about 3 years old. He said it took a lot of “grit and determination” to make it to the next level.

“Working when no one else is working,” Downs added. “Just countless hours of effort and doing what you have to do to get there.”

Pleasanton coach Jeff Niemietz has seen that work ethic translate to the field. Through 18 games, Downs is batting .491 with 16 RBIs. He also has a fielding percentage of .952.

“He’s a huge asset. He’s very valuable to our team,” Niemietz said. “He’s a true leader. The younger kids really look up to him. He’s a four-year letterman and was district MVP as a sophomore. He’s got a bright future ahead of him.”

Downs’ most important role may have been as an example for younger players, his coach said.

“I think when they see a local like Keagan Downs put in all the time and effort, it’s an inspiration that that could be them one day,” Niemietz said. “…It gives them hope and a dream to pursue.”