"His No. 1 tool is his speed. He's as fast a guy as there is on a baseball field," Utes coach Bill Kinneberg said. "He's a really good defensive center fielder, and then the other tools are there. He's got a chance to hit, he's got a little power, he throws very well. He grades out from a professional standpoint very, very well."
Keirsey is one of Utah's most important players. His .336 batting average and 21 RBIs trail only senior Dallas Carroll for the team lead and put him among the top 15 hitters in the Pac-12. His speed has allowed him to tie for the league lead with four triples.
But there's an element of Keirsey's game that is hard to capture in a stat sheet. For instance when he made a blind, over-the-shoulder catch near the center-field wall almost at its deepest point — 420 feet — in the same series last season.
"When the ball was hit, in the back of my mind, I was like, 'DaShawn has that ball,'" fellow outfielder Josh Rose said. "He has the ability to make that play that gets the momentum on our side and changes the game for us."
Keirsey hails from San Diego, where he was a two-sport star at football powerhouse Helix High. He played on teams with Utah State senior cornerback Jalen Davis, whom he noted once beat him in a footrace, "but I would love to race him now."
He had early interest in playing wide receiver at San Jose State and Cal Poly. But while he thought his 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame might translate to football, pro baseball always would be an option at his size and speed.
Baseball was the first sport Keirsey loved as a kid, and he decided to make it his only sport as a high school senior.
"I miss football a lot," he said. "But I know I made the right decision."
Coming off a standout rookie year, expectations were soaring for Keirsey entering this season — and maybe his expectations were the highest. But while he started out hot, he hit a slight rut late in nonconference play and early in Pac-12 play as the team itself slid, losing 10 of 11 games.
His strikeouts were up, his hits and walks were down. Keirsey wasn't having more problems than anyone else on the team — far from it — but he knew he could be better. He concentrated on shortening his swing and becoming more efficient at the plate. His average had risen above .300 by the end of March and hasn't dipped below .320 this month.
"At the beginning of the year, I definitely was putting pressure on myself," he said. "Then I started worrying less about what people were thinking and it just got a little easier."
The Utes (14-17, 5-10) still are languishing in the bottom tier of the Pac-12 this week, even after a needed series win against Cal. It doesn't get any easier this week. After facing BYU at home Tuesday, Utah takes on a tough Arizona squad in Tucson. The Utes are only 5-11 on the road so far this year.
But it helps, Rose said, that he knows the man standing beside him in outfield always will give Utah a chance to win — one jaw-dropping play at a time.
"Some of the catches and some of the hits he's had in the past, it's just like, 'Wow,'" Rose said. "I hope someday I'll say, 'Hey kids, I played with that guy, and he's in the big leagues right now.'"