Austin Bush is no regular baseball player.
Standing at 6-foot-6 and weighing 265-pounds, the former Turlock High Bulldog has the build of a football or even basketball player if he would choose to go that path. Instead, Bush has blossomed as part of the University of California, Santa Barbara baseball team.
Playing behind a herd of upperclassmen, Bush as a freshman has had to step in and humbly accept his role as a utility player in the infield and has taken advantage of his opportunities, leading a Gauchos team to a 40-15-1 overall record and a national ranking of 16th heading into the regional tournament.
“The team’s success is so much more important than my own. My success is only a small piece of the puzzle to the whole picture,” Bush said. “I want to do the absolute best I can and in doing that I help my team to the best of my ability. Personal success plays hand in hand to the team's.”
For the year, the Gauchos posted a six game winning streak on two occasions along with a nine game winning streak and are without question one of the best teams in school history.
It is also the first time in school history that the Gauchos are hosting a regional contest and only the second time that the team has made it to the postseason under head coach Andrew Checketts, who is in his fourth season.
Although Bush's playing time has been sporadic, having played in only 21 games, he is tied for first place in home-runs (3) in 37 at-bats.
His batting average of .270 is the best among underclassmen and is third on the team in slugging percentage (.541).
“This season I have felt like I have done really well in the opportunities I was presented,” he said. “When I was in the lineup I performed to the best of my ability and I felt really good about the results I produced.”
His path towards making the roster as a true freshman was smoother than most after playing in a very competitive summer baseball league — the West Coast League — along with hard work and dedication.
“I would attribute my success to my preparation such as working day in and day out on my swing and other aspects of my game,” he said. “And being able to focus on my weaknesses and improving those has helped out tremendously.”
In a recent contest against CSU Bakersfield on May 12, Bush proved just how good he can be after hitting a go-ahead home-run in the top of the 9th inning with two outs on a 1-2 pitch.
“Although it wasn't the World Series and just a Tuesday night game it is the moment you dream of as a little boy and that you see in movies,” Bush said. “And it happened to me. It was sort of surreal at first and I really tried to take it all in. It is something that I will never forget in my entire baseball career.”
Since that performance, Bush has steadily seen multiple plate appearances heading into the Regional tournament today against San Diego State. The Gauchos Regional game against San Diego State is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on ESPN3.