Posted on: June 5, 2017
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By Ryan McCracken
(Medicine Hat News)
Taylor Van Ham grew up watching the Medicine Hat Mavericks. Now he’s one of them.
The 21-year-old Hat High Mohawks alumnus made the trip back to the Gas City this week for a tryout with his hometown squad, and on Wednesday morning he heard the words he was waiting for.
“It’s always been a dream to play here,” said Van Ham. “It’s good to be back home. It was pretty nerve-racking for a couple days, not knowing, but I got the news I was looking for… it was definitely special to hear it.”
Mavericks field manager Michael Thompson added Van Ham was a sight for sore eyes, as the team was in need of a capable utility player, especially a primary second baseman, adding he ultimately brought Van Ham into the fold due to his all-around skill set.
“He’s done a great job with the glove defensively and he’s come along with the bat pretty nicely,” Thompson said of Van Ham. “He kind of gives us some depth up the middle, which we need. We needed one more extra left side infielder or second baseman.”
Van Ham spent the past two seasons in Kamloops with the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound righty appeared in 13 Canadian Collegiate Baseball Conference regular season contests with the Wolfpack this year, collecting a .240 average with six hits and 4 RBI. Van Ham added a hit in six at-bats in the CCBC post-season. While they fell short of the title in a 4-3 extra innings loss to Prairie Baseball Academy in the championship game, Van Ham says it shows a lot of promise for the future at TRU.
“It was a good season,” he said. “We definitely look good for the next couple of years.”
For now, Van Ham has his sights narrowed on a Western Major Baseball League title with his hometown squad. While he’s not expected to field a regular starting position with the team, Van Ham says he knows his role and hopes to fill it admirably.
“I just want to put a lot of balls in play, not strike out too often and work hard,” he said.
Van Ham and the rest of the Mavericks will be out for the team’s fan fest tonight at Athletic Park with a 5 p.m. start. Fans are invited to come meet the team for the season’s kick-off barbecue, featuring musical guest Mahoney.
The Mavericks open the WMBL season Friday in Okotoks against the Dawgs.