The transition from standout high school student-athlete to standout college student-athlete has been a seamless one for Thibodaux native and former Vandebilt Catholic High School softball pitcher Nora Keehn.
Keehn has continued to excel athletically and academically following her 2015 graduation from the Houma school.
After spending the first two years of her college career at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Perkinston, Miss., Keehn emerged as one of the top junior-college pitchers in the country and took home numerous pitching awards.
And while studying to become a middle school or junior high teacher and coach, she is also getting it done in the classroom.
Keehn was recently honored with the David H. Halbrook Academic Achievement Among Athletes Award for the 2016-17 school year.
The Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges presents the award after every school year to one male and one female sophomore student-athlete at each of its member schools with the highest grade point average.
Keehn, a former all-state player who led Vandebilt to a Class 4A runner-up title in her junior year of 2015 and once struck out 20 batters in a prep game, finished the 2016-17 school year with a 4.0 GPA.
Vandebilt athletic director and former softball coach Margaret Johnson, who coached Keehn in high school, said she is not surprised Keehn is having so much success in college.
“It’s not surprising at all to me,” Johnson said. “She is a coach’s player. She is relentless when it comes to hard work not only in the classroom, but in athletics as well. She always strives to be the best that she can and she is a true team player. She is super compassionate and a super person. I ran into her over the Thanksgiving holidays and she looks great. She looks so happy and I am happy for her.”
Johnson said Keehn is always willing to give back to the game she loves.
“She has come back to work our softball camp because she loves to give back,” Johnson said. “She loves kids and it’s a pleasure for me as a former head coach to see your kids come back and give to a sport that has been good to them.”
Keehn said she works to do her best academically and athletically, but focuses more on her work in the classroom.
“I probably stress myself out more in the classroom than I do in sports,” Keehn said. “Sports is just fun. That is how I think of it. In the classroom, I want to get all A’s because sports is just temporary and you have to work toward your career.”
As a freshman pitcher in college, Keehn posted a 14-2 record with a 0.98 earned run average (third lowest in the country) and made all A’s and one B.
This past spring as a sophomore, the right-hander wrapped up her final season at Mississippi Gulf Coast and helped the team to a 40-14 mark and its third-straight 40-win season.
“My first two years there really were a good experience,” Keehn said. “It helped me understand what I needed to do in college and helped me grow in softball. It helped let me know the things I needed to work on and improve on. It helped me a lot.”
She was named to Fastpitch News National Junior College Athletic Association Division II All-American Honorable Mention team and finished with a 21-6 overall record and had two saves. She posted a 1.99 ERA with 123 strikeouts to 24 walks.
Keehn is currently enrolled and playing softball at Division II West Alabama in Livingston, Ala., where she said she hopes to help the softball team improve on last season’s 21-31 overall record, which included an 11-22 mark in the Gulf South Conference.
“I am happy to be at West Alabama now. It feels like home,” Keehn said. “We have a lot of pitchers here and we are all going to help the team. Our coach (Carie Dever Boaz) is only in her second year here and our expectations are really high. She has turned around a lot of programs and we want to be the team that turns this program around.”