By Ray Hamill — Humboldt Crabs infielder Billy Ham is taking full advantage of the opportunities he’s getting this summer.
The Nevada-Reno sophomore has arguably been the team’s most consistent bat, while also providing a reliable glove at first base.
And that consistency has given Ham the one thing he wanted out of his collegiate summer team more than anything this year.
Last summer Ham played summer ball in Palm Springs and appeared in just 12 games, while seeing a little more than 30 at-bats.
This year, one of his main goals for the summer season was to see more game time so he could continue to develop as a player.
And he’s more than earned the game time he’s seeing after quickly establishing himself as one of the Crabs’ best players.
“From day one, Billy has been one of our top hitters,” Crabs manager Robin Guiver said. “Arguably as good as anyone we’ve got.”
Ham has already seen his number of at-bats triple this summer with a team-high 89, and there’s still three weeks remaining in the season.
The Las Vegas native is batting .416 with a team-high 21 RBIs and he is one of just two players on the team — along with Colby Lunsford — to hit home runs, triples and doubles this season, including a team-high 11 doubles and two home runs.
And that’s not the only thing that he’s enjoying about his summer, describing the atmosphere at the Arcata Ball Park as “crazy.”
“I’m having a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing baseball.
“Overall, playing in front of these fans, I’ve never experienced anything like it before in my life.”
As always, the Crabs fans have every reason to feel excited about the team, which is 24-6 on the season after an exciting 6-4 win over the Bay Area Admirals on Friday night.
That success doesn’t surprise Ham, who likes a lot of what he’s seen from his teammates.
“I think my favorite thing about this team is how well we get along together, whether it’s on the field or off the field,” he said. “That’s what makes baseball fun. The people you meet.”
And that includes the Crabs coaching staff, who continue to earn the respect of the players who come to the North Coast each summer.
“The coaches are great, giving everyone their opportunity, giving everyone playing time,” Ham said.
The talented infielder has repaid the coaches’ faith in him but is determined to not get complacent as he eyes further improvement over the final few weeks of the summer season.
“The real expectation I have is to keep improving,” he said. “Trying to stay mentally strong … when you’re doing really well it’s easy to get content, but hitting is a continuing thing where you learn new things every day.”
Ham also has made one appearance out of the bullpen this summer and the coaches want to give him more opportunities on the hill.
He says it’s something he’s always wanted to do, and his college coaches like the idea.
After seeing him throw at practice, they want to feature him as a two-way player in the future, something the Crabs are hoping to help prepare him for.
The Crabs play the Admirals at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night and the two clubs will conclude a three-game series on Sunday’s with first pitch set for 12:30 p.m.