McHarg making most of summer with Saskatoon Berries

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Payton McHarg takes batting practice prior to a Saskatoon Berries home game at Cairns Field on Wednesday, June 25.

Payton McHarg may be a star on the diamond now for his hometown, but the Saskatoon Berries outfielder has some rural Saskatchewan roots.

McHarg, who just finished his junior season at Washburn University Ichabods, an NCAA Division II school in Topeka, Kansas, spent plenty of time in Melfort growing up where his grandfather Dale currently resides.

McHarg says he has plenty of fond memories of the area.

“(I remember) just going there during Christmas. Busy with hockey and stuff up until around Christmas time when we’d go and spend time with my family. We’d have my dad’s brother come in from Calgary and bring his cousins that were around my age. It’s pretty special around Christmas time going back and playing pond hockey and stuff. It was a lot of fun just getting together as a family.”

In 53 games for Washburn this season, McHarg batted .354 with 21 home runs and 67 RBI. He posted a slash line of .354/.473/.743.

McHarg says the key to his success has been finding a routine that works for him and getting regular at-bats.

“I just think finding my swing and just being able to use my body better and having a better lifting program and just staying consistent really helped me.”

While many coaches will push players to try to elevate the baseball or be more selective at the plate to achieve more power, McHarg says the coaching staff at Washburn let him stay true to who he is as a hitter.

“They just let me have free reign. They just told me to do me and just keep being myself. Don’t try to do too much. Just keep swinging. Even if nothing’s going right, just keep swinging. Then it’ll figure it out.”

McHarg’s success south of the border has continued on into the summer season with the Saskatoon Berries of the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL). In 14 games, McHarg is hitting .333 with one home run and 11 RBI.

His best performance of the campaign came back on June 1 when he recorded two doubles and three RBI in a 16-10 Berries win over the Lethbridge Bulls.

Berries head coach Joe Carnahan says McHarg has proven to be a bat that Saskatoon wants to have in the lineup on an everyday basis.

“He’s been really good for us. He’s been battling a little bit with his shoulder. When he’s in the lineup, he’s been very good for us. He’s a guy that we definitely need to have in the lineup a lot.”

As a left-handed hitter who isn’t afraid to go to hit to all fields, Carnahan says McHarg has been someone opposing pitching staffs have had to be wary of.

“It’s tough because he can go line to line and he’s got power from line to line. He’s definitely a tough out and the guy that you have to circle in our lineup.”

While he competes in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) during the collegiate season with Washburn, McHarg says the caliber of competition is very similar in the WCBL to what he sees in the U.S.

“I feel down south it’s a little more velo like upper 80s lower 90s (miles per hour). I’d say it’s a little better down south just because it’s pretty good baseball. It doesn’t mean it’s not good here. It’s just more people from everywhere and lots of hometown guys.”

At the time of publishing, the Berries sit in the fourth and final playoff spot in the WCBL’s Eastern Division.