SANTA ROSA BEACH — Like battling through a long at-bat, Aidan Keenan knows the key to success in life is constant adjustment.
After a scholarship and a commitment to Notre Dame fell through earlier this year, Keenan, a senior on the South Walton baseball team, pivoted and found his next best option just two hours east, signing this past week with Tallahassee Community College in Tallahassee.
“It felt good, man,” Keenan said. “It felt like the work paid off. It was a goal to play some college baseball, so it felt like I was successful in what I strived to do.”
Doing so took a little extra work. When Notre Dame left the picture, Keenan had to start his recruiting journey over from scratch. A connection with teammate Cade Watson and a lucky break helped him land with the Eagles.
“They had seen me at other games because they came to watch Cade pitch,” Keenan said. “So, they had seen my play before and they had another kid who ended up getting hurt and they needed a player and I was able to get picked up.”
With family in the area, Keenan said he leapt at the chance.
“I have a lot of friends and some family that live in Tallahassee, so it’ll be really easy to find somewhere to go or to be able to meet people to be able to go out and things like that,” he said. “It’s not like I’m going in completely dry and pretty unknown. It’s gonna be kinda more of an easy start, especially going to a JUCO and not this bigger school. I think it’ll be a better transition.”
And the Eagles baseball program offers a better chance at long-term improvement.
“They’re actually a super young team,” Keenan said. “This past year, they had like 15 upcoming freshman, so their team’s all about development. They like to have a young team. I only talked to the pitching coach so far, but he’s real big on specific mechanics and stuff like that … It definitely works in my favor just to getting to be a better player.”
A right-handed pitcher, Keenan helped the Seahawks to a 17-9 record this past season, posting a 2.09 ERA over a team-high 50 1/3 innings with 93 strikeouts. He also boasted the best batting average on the team, slashing .329/.466/.442 with 11 RBI and five doubles.
Before his senior campaign was cut short seven games into the season by the coronavirus pandemic, Keenan was hitting .474 and had 0.00 ERA over 15 innings thanks to a fastball that “touches 90,” a “hard” breaking ball and a “decent” changeup.
With a plan to pursue a degree in environmental law, Keenan said he is most looking forward to putting those pitches on display in Tallahassee, making lifelong friends and finding out more about who he is.
“I think throughout your high school years, at least in my opinion, it’s kinda difficult to develop into your own character,” he said. “You’re still maturing as a person. But really my biggest goal is to become a better person than I was.”