LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Spalding University baseball team is ranked for the first time since joining the NCAA Division III five years ago. The Golden Eagles are currently 18th. They have been led by senior pitcher Jimi Keating, who is following up an All-American campaign as a Junior with a stellar senior season.

Through seven starts, Keating is 6-0 with a 1.74 earned run average.  His wins and 72 strikeouts lead the nation.  He's allowed just ten walks.

Keating has drawn plenty of interest from pro scouts and was listed as the 7th-rated prospect in Division III starting the season by Perfect Game. Pro baseball is definitely the goal for the late-bloomer from Shepherdsville.  He graduated from Bardstown Bethlehem High School with just a couple of college offers.  The now 6'4" 220 pound right-hander decided to stay close to home at Spalding in large part to keep helping at home with his biggest supporter, his 18-year-old sister Kyra who has Down Syndrome. When Kyra flourished under a teacher at Eastside Middle School a few years ago, that had a profound effect on Jimi and changed his future path.  He changed his major to Special Education where he's been an honor roll student and an Academic All-American.  After his baseball career is over, he plans on teaching.

"When she went to Eastside, something clicked, a teacher made a difference," said Jimi.  "We got a lot closer because we were able to talk about stuff.  If you could be that teacher that brings a family closer together, that inspires people through someone in their own family, that's incredible."

Keating hopes to lead Spalding to a conference title and beyond this season.  

He's been a joy to have around," said head coach Matt Downs about Keating.  "He's a great leader and has taken on more responsibility with our team because he's had to be responsible to help his parents with his sister. He has really flourished in all facets at Spalding.  As a coach and a University we're all very proud of him and everything he's accomplished so far and look to see where it goes from here."        

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