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NOTRE DAME Bushey eyes strong finish, shot at draft



Published: Thu, February 21, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Mooney grad is eyeing another solid baseball season, which he hopes will land him a pro contract.

By JOHN KOVACH

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

After helping the University of Notre Dame baseball team to one of its most successful seasons last spring, Andy Bushey is aiming for a strong finish to his collegiate career this season to open the door to a professional career.

"I'm kind of anticipating I will be drafted [in June]," said Bushey, a senior third baseman-catcher and co-captain from Cardinal Mooney High, who is optimistic after batting .335 (71-for-212) and making the All-Big East Conference First Team last year.

Bushey, who also had 17 doubles, 36 RBIs and 34 runs, helped Notre Dame to the most wins in school history (49-13-1), the Big East Conference championship (22-4) and a first-ever No. 1 national ranking last season. He ranked fourth on the team in batting and third in RBIs.

"We haven't had a chance to talk to any scouts this season," said Bushey (5-11, 190), a two-year letterman and team captain who has received questionnaires from some professional teams. "The biggest thing is they [scouts] come out and see you play in the spring, and if they see what they like, they continue to go after you and talk to you."

First No. 1 ranking: Notre Dame, coached by Paul Mainieri, was ranked No. 1 by both the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball magazine polls during last season. That marked the first time in the school's 109-year baseball history that it made it to the top. The Irish eventually wound up ranked No. 3 by Collegiate Baseball.

Notre Dame will open the season on Friday in New Orleans against Missouri, and Bushey will be playing dual roles for the team this year.

"I will be splitting time at catcher and first base," said Bushey, who has improved steadily at the plate over his Irish career.

He has climbed from .266 (34-for-128) as a freshman, to .275 (58-for-211) as a sophomore, and then the big jump to .335 last year. This capacity to improve bodes well for a professional career.

Other assets: But Bushey believes other attributes also will make him attractive to pro teams as the draft nears, especially as a catcher.

"I think that my arm strength as a catcher [is valuable]," said Bushey. "My coach has told me I have a pretty quick release and strong arm as a catcher.

"When catching, I don't have any problems with base runners."

He also believes that being a left-handed batting catcher is another asset.

Hitting advantage: "I'm more valuable as a left-handed hitter being a catcher. A left-handed batter has more advantages. It's easier for me to see the ball against right-handed pitchers," said Bushey. "I take away a slider and curve ball from a right-handed pitcher. It's easier for a hitter to match up against opposite pitchers.

"I am able to hit to all fields well," he added. "I'm pretty fast for a catcher [with] average to above-average speed."

There will be other factors involved, too.

"A lot of pro teams will talk to coaches about intangibles, work ethic and leadership, and things in that area that will help me a lot," said Bushey. "I've been a captain for two years, and I try to lead by examples through my work ethic, and the coach notices that."

Has 3.4 GPA: The son of Martha and Michael Bushey, Andy also is an outstanding student with a 3.4 grade-point average as a finance major, and is a member of the National Honor Society. He is planning to graduate in May.

If professional baseball doesn't call, Bushey intends to pursue a JD/MBA degree, which is a combination law and business graduate program.

While at Mooney as a pitcher and shortstop, he set three career school records for hits (101), doubles and RBIs. In his senior season, he batted an SVC-best .440, was named Mooney's MVP and made all-state.

Bushey also was a member of the National Honor Society and a four-year honor student.

kovach@vindy.com




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