180713_sports_Verduzco

St. Joseph Mustangs infielder Chaz Verduzco catches a softball during pregame warm-ups prior to their contest against the Clarinda A’s on Thursday at Phil Welch Stadium.

Chaz Verduzco attended quite a few St. Joseph Mustangs games growing up.

His mother Tracy, the team’s score keeper, would bring her son with her to games during the summers. This season, he became a member of the team that he had grown up watching.

“It’s really exciting,” Verduzco said. “It was a pretty cool opportunity and I’m glad that I took it.”

Becoming a Mustang served as a bit of a homecoming for the former Benton standout. After high school, Verduzco went to Southwest Baptist to play college baseball. He spent this past season playing for Skyline University in California.

Starting this spring he will play for his father, Buzz Verduzco, at Missouri Western.

“(The transition) has been great,” Verduzco said. “Being home, I’ve been able to work with my dad and be at and work at (Western). Coming back to Missouri Western is going to be a very unique opportunity and the more I’m here the more excited I am for it.”

Verduzco joined former Benton and Mustangs alumnus, Johnny Coy, who is in his first season as the team’s manager. As someone who both grew up in St. Joseph and played for the Mustangs, Coy understands the importance of having local players on the roster.

“It’s huge, we’d love to have as many St. Joe kids as possible who can compete at this level,” Coy said. “It’s awesome because the fans love to come watch St. Joe kids and they really get behind the St. Joe kids. That first year (with the Mustangs) we had so many area kids and it was an awesome experience. I want that for these kids to be able to play in front of their hometown.”

Coming into Thursday night’s game against the Clarinda A’s, Verduzco had played in 12 games for the Mustangs, batting .256. If he continues swinging the bat the way he did in the previous week, he’s going to be hard to take out of the lineup.

“He’s swinging the bat well,” Coy said. “He’s doing a lot of good things at the plate, he’s helping us on defense, he’s hustling all over the place. He’s making the most of his opportunity, and he’s going to be a guy who is in the lineup more and more.”

In his past three games, Verduzco has collected five hits, two home runs and six RBIs.

“I’ve seen a lot of pitching,” Verduzco said. “The more you play, the more experience you have. So being in the lineup a lot more consistently really helps.”

Verduzco will try to help the Mustangs make a push for the postseason over the final two weeks of the regular season as the team looks for its sixth MINK League title.

John Zetmeir can be reached at john.zetmeir@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowZetmeir.