When Jon Burghardt told his father he was committing to Washington State University to play baseball, his old man was a little torn.
“My dad went to UW, so it was a little hard for him,” Burghardt said with a laugh.
Burghardt announced his decision last week on Twitter.
Never miss a local story.
His dad will probably get over it pretty quickly. Burghardt, a senior catcher for Gig Harbor High School, had a breakout junior campaign for the Tides, posting a .392/.484/.676 slash line (batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage).
“I feel like this season I worked harder in the offseason than I did before,” Burghardt said. “It really paid off. I’m glad I did that.”
Washington State, which fired longtime coach Donnie Marbut in May, has brought in Marty Lees as the new head coach. Lees spent the previous three seasons as the recruiting coordinator and assistant coach at Oklahoma State University. Before that, he spent 11 years at Oregon State. Burghardt was impressed with the new staff.
“I feel like they have a great coaching staff,” Burghardt said. “They’re really honest in what I can work on and they’re really smart about baseball. That really helped me make my decision.”
Lees and his staff were likely intrigued by Burghardt’s ability to hit, primarily. In addition to hitting for average, Burghardt has some serious pop in his bat, too.
“The coaches said my main tool is my bat,” he said. “They love the pop I bring and my contact.”
Before the coaching change, Gig Harbor High School senior outfielder and pitcher Michael Toglia was committed to play for the Cougs. Now, Burghardt is trying to get him back on board with the new coaching staff intact.
“He’s my best friend, so if he went, we’d be great roommates,” Burghardt said. “I’m definitely trying to get him to go.”
Toglia congratulated Burghardt on Twitter.
Burghardt said he liked the community feel that Pullman offers.
“Everything has to do with the college in Pullman,” Burghardt said. “If you’re not doing anything, you just go to the football game, or a basketball game with your friends. I like the college town feel in Pullman.”
Traveling to different places up and down the west coast, and around the country, is an exciting prospect for the Gig Harbor slugger.
“I’m excited to travel with the team and play high competitive baseball and work harder to become a better player,” Burghardt said.
In college, Burghardt said he wants to study business and physics. Burghardt, who is currently working on getting his piloting license, hopes to someday become a commercial pilot. Burghardt expects to have his piloting license by the end of the summer.