WESTPORT — As Staples senior Alec Burns prepares for the start of the baseball season, there were a few housekeeping things that needed to be taken care of before focusing solely on the Wreckers’ Class LL state title defense.
Burns, who will look to help bolster the Wreckers’ rotation this spring, signed on to play at New York University next year.
“NYU was just a great fit for me,” Burns said. “Being in the city was always something I wanted to do and I felt very comfortable spending my next four years there.”
For the right-handed starter, making the choice to head to the Big Apple after this season was made that much easier thanks to his older brother Ian, who starred at Staples before graduating in 2015 and committing to pitch at Columbia University.
It was the advice the elder Burns brother gave him that has helped prepare him for the transition to the next level, Burns said.
“Just by seeing what his experience has been like I know wanted a similar one,” Burns said. “He’s definitely shown me how hard it is to prepare both physically for the season and managing time to still be a successful student. I’ve gotten the opportunity to see what goes into being a college athlete because of him.”
Although advising his younger brother that the jump to the collegiate level will be “a little tough at first,” Burns said he told his little brother that once the games begin, not much else changes.
“On the mound,” he said, “I told (Alec) it’s the same game whether it’s high school or college. He should just play his game and not worry about anything else.”
Coming off of an All-Ivy League Honorable Mentions campaign last season, Burns said he is excited that his younger brother has achieved so much in his career — knowing it’s just the beginning.
“(It) makes me really proud to see someone follow in my footsteps,” Burns said. “Having the opportunity to succeed in a similar way as me. He works unbelievably hard and I hope to see it pay off this spring and in the future.”
But while NYU waits, Burns still has a state title to help keep in Westport as one of the main cogs in the rotation following the departure of starters Ryan Fitton and Ben Casparius. There is still plenty of work left to be done.
Although when it comes to getting the job done, there aren’t many who do it better than Burns, Staples coach Jack McFarland said.
“He’s a power arm for us,” he said. “He’s going to throw the ball in the high 80s. A real hard worker. A great teammate and we’re expecting big things out of him this year. NYU is getting a kid that is going to be a really great teammate and work hard for them.”
While losing two top starters from the previous year would be cause for concern for most coaches, McFarland has the luxury of being able to have Burns in a rotation — along with All-State junior ace Chad Knight — that will still be one of the best in the conference in the spring.
“To have a kid like Alec in there,” McFarland said, “he’s got swing-and-miss stuff and it’s his senior year so we’re really excited about getting to watch him pitch this year.”
The Wreckers lost seven seniors from last season’s state title team, but in order for them to hoist the trophy once again at the end of the year it will take new players stepping up and delivering, Burns said.
“Losing those seniors we had last year is definitely tough,” he said. “The big thing for me this offseason was to get bigger and stronger. … I think we had so much depth at the position last year that a lot of young guys got overlooked, so look for them to make an impact this year.”
As one of those big-impact players himself, Burns said he is ready to get the season rolling, but he is thankful that the whole recruiting process is over and that his support system helped to get him through it.
“My family and coaches I have gotten a chance to work with were very supportive of me pursuing a college baseball career and were always there to talk. My family most importantly has helped me get to the point I am now as a player and a person.”
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