Timing has been everything for Keelin Rasch.
The former Harrisburg High School star athlete passed up an opportunity to sign with the Atlanta Braves out of high school after being drafted in the 41st round because the time just wasn't right.
Instead, Rasch took his skills to the Carterville campus of John A. Logan College, where the biggest improvement he made wasn't really even on the field.
"I matured a lot," Rasch said. "Physically, mentally I grew up. I came to John A. Logan to get better, but I also made myself better as a person."
So when the time came for Rasch to consider plans after the two-year junior college, he didn't have to wait long for things to work out.
The University of Louisiana at Monroe came calling, it was the right time and the perfect opportunity for Rasch.
Rasch will join lefthanded pitcher Wes Mason of Mount Vernon and righthanded pitcher Chris Hunt of Paducah, both of JALC, as they recently signed letters of intent to play baseball on scholarship next fall at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
"After visiting there, it seemed like the perfect fit for all of us," Rasch said. "It's a great program, a great baseball town and you can't beat the weather," he said. "I'm looking forward to playing ball there for the next two years. And to have two of my Logan teammates going there with me is that much more exciting."
Rasch said his maturation as a player should lead to even greater success as a sophomore next spring.
"Playing last year made a big difference. I'm much more comfortable in my game this year and am looking forward to having a good year."
ULM is a Division 1 school that plays in the Sun Belt Conference. It's an eight hour drive from Harrisburg and when Rasch took his visit this past fall, he didn't have to have much convincing.
"The campus is awesome. The weather is even better. We got to see them play Baylor in football the weekend I was down there."
Along with becoming an all-around player, Rasch adds the better competition he saw will help propel him at ULM.
"I learned you can't take a day off," he said. "Everyday, you're playing guys just as good as you, if not better."
During his time at JALC, Rasch continued to play third base, a position he occupied for most of his time at Harrisburg High School.
He said those coaches took notice of his "stronger" arm and had a need for a guy who could hit for a high average and be solid at the corner.
Rasch appeared in 53 games last season for the Volunteers where he posted a .313 batting average with three home runs and 24 RBIs. He had a slugging percentage of .385 on an on-base percentage of .352.
Page 2 of 2 - At third base, he had 42 putouts with 87 assists, 11 errors and a fielding percentage of .921
ULM head coach Jeff Schexnaider echoed many of Rasch's sentiments about his overall ability.
"Keelin is a great defender at third base with a very good arm. He's also a solid hitter with the ability to hit for a high average. To be drafted in the 41st round by the Atlanta Braves out of high school, I think says something about his talent level."
As for a career in the majors, Rasch hasn't ruled it out, but knows he still has time.
"I do want to play and at the same time, I know I'm not quite ready. I think I'm getting there though."
Follow Michael Dann on Twitter @spydieshooter.