'I just want to win': Merced native makes big debut with Fresno Grizzlies

Braiden Ward's Fresno assignment is a dream come true for his parents.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Braiden Ward is back in the Central Valley, but this time around he'll be wearing a Fresno Grizzlies uniform.

"I love it, you know it's home," Ward said. "It's what I've always known."

After playing college ball at the University of Washington, Ward was taken by the Rockies in the 16th round of last year's draft.

The Merced native's Fresno assignment is a dream come true for his parents.

"My mom for the last month was, 'Hey are you going to Fresno? Are you going to Fresno? are you going to Fresno?' And I kept telling her we're not gonna know till the end," Ward said. "To the point where I'm like, I think I lied to her at first and said yes before I even knew. It just so happened to work out that I was."

Once it became official, it was all smiles for his parents, Alan and Annette Ward.

"Super ecstatic to have him come home," Ward's father said.

And his mother is right there with her husband.

"It's just great knowing he's gonna be right in our backyard," Ward said.

And perhaps no one is more excited than Ward himself.

"Game under the lights, being hungry nonstop because we're smelling the ballpark food," Ward said. "I'm just excited to win."

His infectious energy that's sure to rub off on teammates and fans alike.

"He used to drive his teachers crazy with his personality and I think I was pretty much the same way," Ward's father said.

And according to his mom, his elementary school principal called her son 'Eddie Haskell'.

Despite that confident personality, he admits to still feeling the nerves at the plate.

"Every at bat no matter what I've got butterflies in my stomach," Ward said. "Whether it was high school to being in the College World Series in Omaha to spring training when it doesn't even matter."

In his Grizzlies debut this past weekend, the center fielder overcame the nerves, launching a solo home run to right with mom and dad looking on - momentum he's hoping to carry for the rest of the season back home.

"I wanna see 14,000, 15,000 with standing room only absolutely celebrating after we hit a walk off in the 9th or go up by 10," Ward said. "I don't really care I just want to win."

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