Benson pitcher Kris Keating is nearing the end of his first season in the Western Major Baseball League.
Keating has spent the last two school years with the Northern State University Wolves in Aberdeen, S.D. This summer, the 20-year-old decided he needed to continue playing at a high level in order to come back strong in the fall.
After spending last summer playing senior ball with the Estevan Tower Wolves, Keating caught on with the WMBL's Weyburn Beavers this time around.
"It's been good and one of the reasons I wanted to play this summer was so I could keep playing at a good level of competition to hopefully get better for my junior year," Keating said Monday, one day before the Beavers (19-25) were set to begin the WMBL playoffs against the league's top team, the Regina Red Sox.
"Regina's definitely the favourite, so there's not a whole lot of pressure on us and hopefully we can take a couple from them and move on to the next round," he added.
Keating appeared in 11 games this summer, including six starts, posting a record of 2-2. He finished the regular season with 38 innings pitched, carrying an earned run average of 4.74 and a walks and hits per innings pitched ratio of 1.47.
Both of his wins took place in a span of five days recently. He led the Beavers to a 7-4 win over the Okotoks Dawgs on July 20, and five days later he threw a gem in a 2-0 victory over the Red Sox.
"That was really nice. My last two starts have been pretty decent, so hopefully I can keep that going into the playoffs now," said Keating.
"I think it's been a fairly decent year so far here and I'm enjoying myself ... I can't complain so far. It's been really good for me."
Keating said the calibre of play in the WMBL is close to what he faces in South Dakota, which helps him continue to develop as he prepares to enter his third year in university ball.
"I think it's really similar. There are a few of the guys even from our conference that I play in college, playing here too. There's a little better hitting here, I find.
"I think it's going to help me a lot going to school this year. I'm almost up to 40 innings this summer."
Keating has been used entirely as a reliever with the Wolves, making 25 appearances over the last two years.
"It took me a little bit to get used to, but now I'm fairly comfortable starting or relieving, whatever is needed," he said.
He's hoping that his starting experience with the Beavers might give him a shot at the rotation when he returns to Aberdeen, but he doesn't know what will happen.
"It's tough to say. I haven't made any starts there yet, but now that I've been starting here this summer and not doing too bad, I guess I'll have to see how it goes down there."