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Burns slows down to move forward


Sometimes the best step is backward if one wants to move forward.

20-Blake BurnsThat’s what Weatherford College sophomore infielder Blake Burns did following the 2017 baseball season. Now, he’s among the top players in the North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference.

“The difference between this year and last year has been me staying healthy and simplifying and slowing the game down at the plate and in the field,” he said. “I’m not a rah-rah type of leader. I usually try to lead by example by working hard in morning weights, at practice and at night when I do cage work.

“I think with slowing things down and feeling more confident at the plate it is easier to lead by example for the younger guys.”

As a freshman from Keller, Burns batted .273 with six doubles and nine runs batted in last season. This season, at the time of this article, he was leading the Coyotes with a .338 batting average, along with team-bests in RBI (46, also ninth in conference), home runs (8), on-base percentage (.451), and slugging percentage (.614). He was second on the team in doubles (12) and walks (29) and third in hits (49).

“My off-season started this past summer. After having a couple nagging injuries and a concussion at the end of last season I chose to take the summer off, where I made the weight room my primary focus, trying to get myself bigger and stronger going into the fall - which I did gaining roughly 15 pounds,” Burns said. “Then, once the fall season ended, I did the same as summer, living in the weight room to prevent injuries for the spring.”

Coyotes head coach Jeff Lightfoot said watching Burns develop into the player he is now was impressive, along with being a great example for other players.

“Blake is a great teammate, a guy that I enjoy coaching,” Lightfoot said. “Blake has done everything we have asked of him. Watching Blake grow as a hitter has been great for me to be a part of. Blake works every day to become a champion on and off the field.”

Burns comes from a baseball family. His father, Brett Burns, was a pitcher at the University of Texas-Arlington from 1991-93. His grandfather was a utility player at McLennan College and at Texas Wesleyan University.

“I started playing baseball as soon I was old enough to sign up at the age of 4,” Burns said. “My draw to the game definitely came from my dad, who taught me to hit and throw around the time I started walking. So it’s always been my sport.”

Burns also played football and basketball until his sophomore year in high school, when he decided to make his focus baseball, earning first-team all-district honors playing infield. He plans to continue playing next year at Tarleton State University, and, of course, he’d love to have a chance to play professionally.

“My first goal would be to continue my baseball career, but beyond that I want to earn a degree in business, preferably in the sports business side,” Burns said.

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by Rick Mauch