The Moose Jaw Miller Express will once again have a local flavour on their pitching staff when the 2022 Western Canadian Baseball League season opens in a little over three months' time.
The Express recently announced that former Moose Jaw Minor Baseball standout Reece Helland will be returning to the team for the upcoming campaign, and if things go as well for him on the mound this summer as they are right now, he could be in for a banner season.
Helland, who turns 23 in May, is off to an outstanding start with the Olathe, Kansas-based MidAmerica Nazerene Pioneers, having put together a 3.18 earned run average and 1.06 walks and hits per inning pitched in four appearances so far for the NAIA school.
After suiting up last season with Monterey Peninsula College in the California Community Colleges Athletic Association, the 6-foot-0, 190-pound right-handed hurler made his first appearance with the Pioneers on Jan, 26 at Benedictine Mesa and had an immediate impact. Helland needed only 15 pitches to strike out three of the four batters he faced as MidAmerica picked up a 7-5 victory.
Helland didn’t allow a run until his third appearance when he earned his second save of the season after giving up a single run on two hits and four strikeouts in 1 ⅓ innings of work against Olivet Nazerene.
Helland signed with the Pioneers in March of 2021 after an impressive pair of seasons in California. That included a 0.00 ERA and 15 strikeouts against three walks in five outings in the 2019-20 campaign with the Lobos before making eight appearances last season with a 3.52 ERA, four strikeouts and a pair of saves.
Despite the last two Miller Express seasons being cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic, Helland will be a fifth-year veteran with the club in 2022.
He made four appearances as a third baseman in the 2017 season and picked up his first hit the following summer -- a three-run home run in the first inning of an 11-2 win over Yorkton on July 30.
By that time, Helland was well on his way to becoming a full-time pitcher, and by the end of the 2019 WCBL season, he was one of the Miller Express’ top relievers, sporting a 2.95 ERA over 21 innings of work while striking out 19.
MidAmerica Nazerene’s 48-game season began on Jan. 26 and runs through Apr. 30, followed by the NAIA playoff season.
You can follow along with how Helland and the Pioneers are doing at www.mnusports.com/sports/baseball/
The Moose Jaw Miller Express open their first WCBL season in two years on Sunday, May 27 when they host the Medcine Hat Mavericks. You can check out the full season schedule on www.westerncanadianbaseballleague.ca/.