It’s finally here! Athletic Park will host its first game of the 2024 Medicine Hat Mavericks season tonight at 7:05 pm as they take on the newly formed Saskatoon Berries.

Before First Pitch: Medicine Hat

The Mavericks found themselves in Saskatchewan over the weekend taking on the Berries neighbors, The Moose Jaw Miller Express where they split a two-game set.

In game one the Mavericks were unable to manage the bumpy Ross Wells Ballpark and couldn’t keep pace with the Miller Express’ ability to cash in a total of 14 runs, as they fell 14-8 to open the year.

In game two the Mavs saw tremendous improvement, finding their bearings and taking home a 7-4 win. Jacob Petersheim was excellent in his debut start for the team, accompanied by flame throwers Tegan Melanson and Braedon Davis the Mavs were able to keep Moose Jaw’s offensive at bay. 

Offensively It was 2023 Mavericks All-Star Brody Gardner who once again proved his worth as one of the best outfielders in the WCBL batting a healthy .625 with 5 hits to ignite his 2024 campaign. 

Before First Pitch: Saskatoon

The Berries have already played three games, all of which did not turn in their favor. There may be some growing pains in the early going of Saskatoon but that is expected as they, along with the Edmonton Prospects, do not have the luxury of having any pre-existing chemistry.

On that same note, the Berries are anchored by 8 players who were born in Saskatchewan and a trio of catchers from Louisiana. 

One of those catchers Ethan Menard found his stride last night during the Berries home opener potting in 1 RBI and knocking through two hits. 

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough as Saskatoon native Ryan Olchoway took the loss as the Berries fell 8-4. 

Keys to the game: Saskatoon

Saskatoon is yet to capture their first win in club history as they enter Alberta for the first time. Their squad has yet to eclipse the 4-run mark in a game, but they kept things competitive with the Regina Red Sox as they didn’t lose by more than 4 runs. 

The Berries will look to outfielder Carter Beck out of the University of Mary to lead the charge after he saw success hitting .349 with 12 Home Runs this year. 

Alongside Beck, the Berries will need production from their Hometown Hero Payton McHarg who blasted 21 dingers at Washburn University, good enough to give him an NCBWA All-American Nod. 

If the Berries can find a way to load up the scoreboard, their solid pitching staff should be able to take care of the rest.

Keys to the game: Medicine Hat

The Mavericks had trouble in the field over the last two games, which means having a home field for the first time could be a legitimate advantage. Similar to last season, the Mav’s defensive play largely dictated how far they were able to go. 

Luckily for the Mavericks, there is lots of time left to build chemistry with each other and address certain issues early on. 

Scoring on the other hand, well that is where Medicine Hat makes its money. They put up a combined 15 runs over their first two games with a deadly combination of power and patience at the plate. 

Jordan Phillips took a page out of his favorite player Bryce Harper’s book by hitting a mammoth home run over the weekend. He was also responsible for driving in 3 of the Mavericks’ runs and currently carries a .444 average. Look for him to stand out in the Mavs offense tonight.

Coach Kevin Mitchell feels confident in his group as they debut at home saying “We have a ton of versatility with our guys being able to play multiple defensive positions and I think that speaks to our athleticism and baseball IQ as a team”. 

Regardless of the matchup Mitchell’s crew is prepared to face any challenges that they may face in the game and make decisions based on said challenges. Mitchell’s main focus for the Mavs continues to follow the standard of “putting the best possible product on the field each day”. 

Bottom Line

There’s nothing better than opening day and the excitement around the gas city continues to pour. 

Speaking of excitement pouring, there is a chance of rain throughout tonight’s game and the wind will certainly be in effect hitting 46 km/h gusts around the first pitch. 

Both teams are yet to announce their starters for tonight’s game, so be sure to keep an eye out on social media @mhmavericks for all lineup updates.

If you haven’t picked up your tickets for the opener there is still time to do so! If you’re looking to stay in, tune into HomeTeam Live to watch the game. The stage is set, game 1 of 28 at Athletic Park is on deck!