FOREST CITY — Clear Lake brothers Mitchell and Michael Keeran have found a home at the top of the Waldorf University’s baseball team’s batting order. They’re leading the team in hits and runs scored.
Mitchell, a freshman for the Warriors, bats second and leads the team in runs with 16 and is second in hits with 29.
Michael, a junior and one of the team captains, bats third and leads the team with 31 hits and is second with 15 runs scored.
“This season has been a blast,” Michael said. “There has been times I’ve wanted to cheer for my brother, but when I’m following him in the lineup it’s important for me to pay attention to the pitcher to see what they’re trying to do. I have to ready myself.”
Mitchell said it’s reassuring to have his brother follow him in the lineup.
“I like the way the lineup is set,” Mitchell said. “We have a lot of chemistry. We push each other, and if I’m able to get on base I trust he’s behind me looking for a hit.”
Waldorf baseball coach Joe Tautges said the batting order wasn’t designed to have the Keerans bat consecutively. It’s just the way it worked out.
“We have a lot of good hitters on our team,” he said. “They’re two of our better hitters and Mitchell gets on base a lot. That gives Michael and our other hitters a chance to drive the ball and get him around the bases.”
Michael wasn’t the hitter he is today in his first two seasons at Waldorf.
Michael almost exclusively worked off the mound in his first two seasons. As a freshman, he appeared in nine games and started four. He finished with a 1-2 record with 20 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.96. Last season, he finished 2-7 with a 5.65 ERA and 32 strikeouts.
“I talked to coach Tautges last year and told him what I was thinking about having more of a role as a hitter,” said Michael. “So over the summer I worked on it.”
During the summer, he was Clear Lake High School’s assistant baseball coach and played amateur baseball for the Osage North Stars. Both roles allowed him to focus on hitting.
Michael is hitting .440 after 24 games with two doubles, two triples and three home runs. Michael also had a walk-off home run in the Warriors’ 3-2 win in eight innings over Missouri Valley College during Waldorf’s spring break trip in Arizona.
Mitchell said he has always looked up to his brother. And he has been successful in following Michael’s footsteps.
When Michael was a senior at Clear Lake high school his little brother was a freshman.
“We weren’t too bad,” said Michael of the Lions baseball teams. “We got to substate a couple of times but never got to state. He played a little as a freshman, but we always had good players in the outfield, so he was limited.”
Michael earned All State status in baseball in 2012 as a senior. When he graduated, Mitchell moved to the varsity, picking up right where his brother left off.
As a sophomore in 2013, the younger Keeran was a key player on the Lions’ state title team. Again in 2015, Keeran helped Clear Lake to another title in addition to earning a first-team all-state honor by the Iowa Newspaper Association.
Michael says his brother is a good hitter and mentally strong in his approach to the game. “He plays so hard and so well. He doesn’t try to do too much.”
Mitchell, who has started in right field for the Warriors, said the transition from high school to college baseball has been challenging.
“Obviously every game you play, you see players who are proven. There’s no pushovers,” he said. “It’s a much faster and more challenging game.”
Michael, who is studying education at Waldorf, and Mitchell, a communications student, are the sons of Mike and Jennifer Keeran of Clear Lake.
Both players agree that their love of baseball is being fulfilled at Waldorf.
“It wasn’t too hard of a sell at all to get him to come to Waldorf to play baseball,” said Michael of recruiting his younger brother.