Former Lee County standout and Columbus State pitcher Jason Burdette will be inducted into Columbus State’s Hall of Fame tonight. (Special photo)
The national championship ring is tucked away safely in Jason Burdette’s home. He doesn’t wear it too much these days, but it conjures up a whole bunch of memories for the former Lee County High School baseball standout.
After high school, Burdette helped lead Columbus State University to the 2002 NCAA Division II national championship.
The former Lee County native, who now lives in Columbus, will be one of four CSU athletes to be inducted into the Columbus State University Hall of Fame tonight. He joins fellow teammate Chris Gilstrap as well as pitcher Tim Trawick and longtime Columbus State women’s basketball coach Jay Sparks in the 2014 class.
“It’s an honor to be inducted,” Burdette said. “It’s even more special to go into the Hall of Fame with one of my teammates.”
Burdette entered CSU folklore in 2002 when he hurled a complete-game pitching gem against Cal State Chico in the finals at Paterson Field in Montgomery, Ala., scattering eight hits and striking out three. The championship victory was his second of the tournament.
He finished his four-year collegiate career with a 28-11 record and an ERA of 3.90. His 360 2/3 innings pitched rank first in school history, while his 307 strikeouts are second most.
He also ranks fourth in wins and sixth in complete games with 13. In Peach Belt Conference history, he ranks sixth in strikeouts.
Before CSU, Burdette caught the attention of former Lee County High School baseball coach Rob Williams.
“I remember him throwing the ball really well in Little League,” Williams said. “And he swung the bat really well, too.”
A few years later, Burdette was a standout pitcher and shortstop at Lee County. During his senior season in 1998, he played shortstop and pitcher. He led the team with a .494 batting average with 27 RBIs. He also won eight games and finished with a 1.92 ERA.
“He played shortstop some for us, too,” Williams said. “He was a bigger kid, but always very consistent. Whether he was hitting or pitching, he always brought his ‘A’ game every time.”
After college, Burdette spent some time in the Oakland Athletics’ organization, playing short-season Class A baseball where he was named pitcher of the year. Burdette said he drew his inspiration from his father, who played professionally in the minors for several seasons before he was born.
He said baseball was a “family affair.”
Currently, Burdette works in finance for the Columbus Regional Healthcare System.
As for his championship ring and memories of the Cougars’ national championship run, Burdette speaks fondly. He said he only breaks out his ring for special occasions.
“I’ll probably wear it (tonight),” he said.