After a sluggish start to the 2019 season, the defending Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) champion Medicine Hat Mavericks needed a spark.
At the plate, that has come in the form of infielder Austin Sojka, who leads the Mavs in home runs (5), RBI (25), and batting average (.368) through his 30 games of play for the red and white.
With the Californian pacing the offence, the Mavericks are now in the thick of the playoff chase and looking to defend their championship crown.
We caught up with No. 30 at the WCBL All Star Game in Edmonton on July 7th – where Sojka was one of three Mavs players representing Medicine Hat – and posed him seven questions as part of our ongoing 7th Inning Stretch series.
Here’s what Sojka, who is coming off a decorated senior year with the Oklahoma Wesleyan Eagles, had to say:
1. How did you get into baseball as a kid?
Just from a young age I went after the ball, and I always wanted my mom and dad to just keep throwing me the ball and any toy I went for was baseball oriented.
2. You’re from Huntington Beach, California and you went to school in Texas and Oklahoma. How did you end up playing for the Medicine Hat Mavericks?
My coach that coached for me this year (Andrew Murphy) was actually the coach for the Medicine Hat Mavericks last year, so he ended up sending me up and hooking me up and I ended up coming and I’ve enjoyed it.
I had the hookup, I wasn’t even going to play, really. I was just going to start working and focus on my degree. I’m super close to graduating, so it was just one team and one team only, and I ended up going and my parents supported me, so I decided on coming up.
3. How did you find out you made the WCBL’s Western Division All Star team and what does the honour mean to you?
My coach sent me a text. It was super cool. We were on the road. Me and my buddies were all together and they celebrated with me. It’s always nice to be named an all star. You just have to take it in and live for the moment.
4. How do you view your season so far?
I’m having a great time. I’m just enjoying it. Every base hit I get, every home run I hit … it could be the last one, so I’m just really enjoying it and having a good time with my friends and creating relationships.
5. The Mavs won the league title last year and the team has several returning players. What was it like entering that dynamic and how is the squad looking now?
We’re in a good spot, I think. We’re figuring out the puzzle. We’re just putting the pieces together. I think we’re going to really get rolling here and really find our mojo.
I was really welcomed by this team and the returning players … it’s probably one of the best teams I’ve been welcomed on. It was super easy coming in. They made me feel at home and feel comfortable. I can’t say anything bad about the returning players. They’re very welcoming. It’s one of the most fun teams I’ve played on, for sure.
6. Which piece of equipment are you more likely to be superstitious about: your bat or your glove?
Both. I sleep with my glove on the regular and the pitchers can’t touch the bat. Just don’t let the pitchers touch the bat … bad juju right there, no good.
7. What are your thoughts on displaying emotion in the game? Is it OK to bat flip after a big at bat or fist pump following a key strikeout?
I’m all about it, but it’s a situational thing. You know, three run bombs to take the lead, walkoffs … but I’m all about a pitcher pimping his strikeout, too. I always respect a good fastball, curveball or whatever that sits me down. I’ll turn around and walk away and if he yells at me, I don’t care.
But when I get my chance, you know, and I get my one that goes, I’m going to show a little emotion, too. I’m all about it. I love it. I think it’s cool.