Austin Burgess, a junior from Hughesville, MD, is the left fielder for Swarthmore’s baseball team. Since April 9, the Garnet has won six straight games, propelling them to a 9-2 record in Centennial Conference play to tie for first in the conference. Throughout the past six games, Burgess hit 12-for-24 with eleven RBIs and ten extra-base hits, including two home runs. On Tuesday, April 19, Burgess went 2-for-3 with two doubles in a 4-2 win at home over Ursinus. The Garnet continues the series in an away game against Ursinus on Friday, April 23.
Asha Bhuiyan: What has been your most memorable moment of the season so far?
Austin Burgess: Anytime we’ve had the opportunity to play at home on a Friday or Saturday is a highlight for me. After waiting so long to play due to COVID, I’m always grateful to run out on the field in front of my friends watching from the stands or NPPR. I think I speak for the team when I say that hearing students cheer from the porch makes playing, particularly in the outfield, an absolute joy.
Asha Bhuiyan: What are your goals for the rest of the season?
Austin Burgess: Our goal has always been to make and win the conference tournament. The Centennial Conference certainly has good competition, but we’ve remained confident in what we’ve had all season. Our coaches scheduled an extremely tough lineup of teams prior to Centennial play, so we came into our Washington College series already well tested. We’ve now hit our stride as a unit, and I believe the bumps in the first half of the season thoroughly prepared us to accomplish our goals.
Asha Bhuiyan: What is your favorite thing to do with the team outside of practice?
Austin Burgess: Playing video games with other guys is probably my favorite thing to do. Whether it’s playing a phone game like Clash Royale or a more traditional one like Smash Bros, it’s great to cut loose and talk some trash during our down time.
Asha Bhuiyan: What has it been like returning to the field after a year off due to COVID-19?
Austin Burgess: Returning to college baseball was a massive adjustment. The last time I had put on a Swarthmore jersey before COVID, I was a sophomore surrounded by incredible players and leaders who carried the brunt of the pressure to perform consistently. I was accustomed to guys like Ryan Warm, Cole Beeker, and Jared Gillen being the main guys to ignite a fire in our team and make things happen. Usually the transition into those roles is gradual, but COVID thrust me and my teammates into leadership positions that we had no experience in. That was a tough piece to wrap my head around, but of course I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be an impact player alongside my best friends. The responsibility and expectations are heightened, but Owen Webb, Michael Sepe, and Sam Jacobson in particular have really helped me and other guys in my same position to become better leaders and take things in stride.
Asha Bhuiyan: Do you have any pre- or post- game rituals?
Austin Burgess: As long as I can get some time before getting dressed to relax and listen to music, then I’m good to go.
Asha Bhuiyan: Why did you choose Swarthmore?
Austin Burgess: I loved playing baseball too much to give up playing it after high school. I wasn’t a standout talent by any stretch, but I still wanted a chance to play somewhere and make the most of it. Coach Midkiff made me feel wanted more than any other school I looked at, and the rest is history. It doesn’t hurt that Swat is also an incredible academic opportunity!
Asha Bhuiyan: What is your major, and why?
Austin Burgess: Computer Science wasn’t in my mind at all when I got here, but sure enough, it’s my major. I took a class my freshman spring and had a natural liking for everything. The major is tough, but I get a lot of satisfaction hitting walls and figuring out solutions to move forward. Computer Science solutions can sometimes be black and white, but there is an element of creativity, especially in real world applications, that produces a worthwhile experience for me.
Asha Bhuiyan: What is your favorite class you’ve taken at Swarthmore?
Austin Burgess: CS21 was the class that introduced me to Computer Science. The work was a great introduction into the different things you can do with coding knowledge. Between this course and CS35 are my favorites I’ve taken at Swarthmore. CS21 in particular gives students on a weekly basis plenty of creative power in their code, so I tell younger students in the major to really enjoy that class while they’re in it.
Asha Bhuiyan: Favorite Sharples bar?
Austin Burgess: I enjoy pasta and meatballs because it’s consistently solid, which is all I can ask for from Sharples.