Beavers Going Pro Burlingame continues success in newly formed ASBA

Former Beaver Softball outfielder Jess Burlingame continuing high-caliber play professionally

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Jessica Burlingame was one of the best Beaver softball players in recent memory and has made her case to be known as one of the best in program history. That distinction helped her land a spot in the newly formed American Softball Association (ASBA).

The commitment to being a college athlete has been compared to having a full-time job. It’s a lot to handle for most athletes but Burlingame embraced and loved the commitment. She loved the workload that came with balancing workouts/practices, softball games, class, schoolwork and hanging out with friends. Burlingame loved the challenge of being a college athlete.

“I can’t really picture going to college anywhere else,” said Burlingame. “I couldn’t imagine being in college without playing softball.”

Burlingame became a full-time starter in the outfield starting right away in her freshman season and she continued to develop and get better year after year for the Beavers. When her career was all said and done, Burlingame had one of the best hitters in Beaver Softball history.

In her four years with Bemidji State, Burlingame earned herself two selections to the All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Second Team. She recorded a career .362 batting average, 233 hits, and 133 runs scored and 29 stolen bases, all of which are program records. In addition, she ranks top five in program history in slugging and on-base percentage, and games played.

While Burlingame was still at Bemidji State, one of the coaches at BSU told her about a new professional softball league that was looking for players at the college level. She jumped at the opportunity to play the game she loves at the professional level.

The ASBA is a new professional softball league based in Mobile, Ala., and played its inaugural season in 2018. The ASBA consists of four teams who are all named after their team sponsors. These four teams have rosters of around 12-15 players who play a 26-game season over a six-week span and all of the league’s games are played on the same field.

“They have a really good foundation,” said Burlingame. “The thought process that they have for the league is really good and it definitely has the potential to grow into something great.”

The ASBA held their annual draft in June of 2019. Burlingame was drafted by Performance Lab and the next week she was down to Mobile to prepare for the season and meet with her new team. With the season being six weeks of nothing but softball, it put her in the same busy schedule like she had encountered while at Bemidji State.

Two coaches that have had a big impact on her softball career are Jim Hansen, her Elite team coach, and BSU head coach Brittany Gomez. Both coaches have helped Burlingame in her softball career but Gomez played a big role by helping her prepare for and adjust to playing softball at the next level.

“I developed a lot my senior year with (Gomez). She helped me a lot with the professional side of things because she is a previous professional player herself and still is actually,” said Burlingame. “She helped me a lot and was a super good tool to get the insight of professional athletics but also developmentally.”

The transition from Division II to the pros was seamless for Burlingame as she swung the bat down in Alabama just as well as she did for the Beavers. She posted a .350 average, a .600 slugging percentage, with three home runs and 11 RBIs and played in 21 out of the team’s 26 games during her rookie season with Performance Lab. Burlingame was one of the best hitters for Performance Lab and contributed to the team’s success with a record of 16-10 and a trip to the ASBA Championship.

One of the reasons Burlingame is enjoying her time with Performance Lab is getting to know many different softball players from all around the country. There is a good mix of players who are coming right from college and of players who play in other professional softball leagues around the world as well.

“There is a very wide range of individuals and a large diversity of people,” said Burlingame. “It’s a great experience. I’ve made some really great friendships in the short amount of time I was down there.”

Jessica Burlingame loves the game of softball and hopes to keep playing in the ASBA for as long as she can. She knows she wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for all the people who have guided and supported her along the way.

“It’s awesome that I get to call myself a professional athlete but I wouldn't be able to do it without the help of everybody.” said Burlingame. “I owe it to everybody. My coaches, my teammates, my family, and my friends for where I am today.”
Created By
CJ Baumgartner