High School Hot Shot: Braiden Ward

El Capitan senior Braiden Ward has a lot of interests, so stealing a line from a famous advertising campaign: is he the most interesting man in the world?

"No, not even close," replies Ward.  

Perhaps not, but he's certainly interesting.

He was a BMX star as a young kid. 

"I think I got first in state one year, this is when I was like 7 or 8 (years old)," says a smiling Braiden.  "I was really good back then." 

He has been a star in the pool, serving as the Gauchos water polo goalie. 

"I used water polo as a way to train for baseball," says Braiden. 

He's a terrific student with a 4.2 GPA, with big dreams off the field.

"I want to become an orthopedic surgeon," Braiden tells me. 

He likes to hunt and spend time in the outdoors.

"My grandfather is a cowboy," adds Braiden.  "I just worked cattle with him last weekend." 

But most notably, Braiden is really good at baseball. 

"I hope to get drafted, play pro ball, using my speed hopefully to get to the MLB," says Braiden.

The speed.

It's the kind that doesn't come around very often. 

"He's the fastest kid I've ever coached or played with, absolutely," says his high school baseball coach Aaron Ruiz. 

The exact times have varied on different occasions, but Braiden tells me he has been clocked at under 6.2 seconds in the 60-yard dash, and at 3.6 seconds from home to first base, which would compare him to some of the fastest guys currently playing in the big leagues. 

When I ask how many times he has reached base via walk or single, and then stolen second and third, his response -- "every time I can." 

"It's pretty impressive to watch him get down the line, and he turns singles into doubles all day long," says Ruiz. "Most guys would just be getting to the bag, and he's already halfway to second base." 

Using that speed, Ward has averaged about a stolen base per game -- and scored well over a run per game -- for the Gauchos the last two seasons. 

But he's more than just a one trick speed pony. 

"He doesn't only play infield; he can play outfield; he can pitch; he's caught for us a few games," says Ruiz.  "I mean, he does it all." 

This thoroughbred has hit nearly .500 over the last two years at the plate, and been very smooth in the field -- mainly at shortstop -- in leading the Gauchos all the way to the Sac-Joaquin section Division IV title game a year ago, and back to the playoffs this year, this time as a Division I school. 

Braiden got lots of attention on the recruiting front -- from the likes of Cal, UCSB and Cal Poly -- but in the end, this outdoorsmen was attracted to the natural scenery of Seattle, and chose Washington. 

"It's the great Northwest," Ward says simply.  "I mean it is beautiful." 

The trip to Seattle though, will feel like nothing compared to the adventure Braiden recently had over Christmas break. 

On the recommendation of former coaches and professional scouts, he was selected to play in the Goodwill Series in Australia, where young American players compete against some of the top Australian players in a series of games. 

Braiden Ward, the running man at El Capitan, this week's High School Hot Shot. 

 

    

 


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