April 26, 1999
While Stanford students can often be classified as over-achievers, very few have anything on Joe Borchard. The sophomore has spent his first two years on the Farm playing one of the most demanding positions in all of sports (quarterback), starting 82 of 85 games for a top-five baseball team, and taking a full load of classes at one of the toughest universities around. And, impressively, he has done all of it very well.
Borchard came to Stanford from Camarillo, Calif., where he was a football All-American, an academic All-American and a two-time all-league baseball player. He redshirted in football during his first fall, then hit .330 with 10 home runs and 55 RBI as a freshman for a baseball team that was ranked No. 1 all season long. Despite missing all of spring football practice, he competed for the starting job this past fall. His dramatic 41-yard run set up the winning field goal against North Carolina.
Toward the end of the season, Borchard, Todd Husak and Randy Fasani rotated at quarterback. "I thought it had a good impact on the game," Borchard said of the novel strategy. "It definitely confused the defense a little bit, which was the idea. I thought it worked well for us, but at the same time, there's always the goal of you want to be the main guy. I think all three of us think that way."
He said missing off-season workouts in both sports has been tough, and he will try a new strategy to get ready for football. "It hurts in my consistency, just because I don't get the same amount of repetitions I should get," he said of missing practice in both sports. "I'll be playing as much spring football as I can without missing any baseball games. We have 15 practices, and I'll be at about nine of them, which will be a lot better than last year."
It should be no surprise his coaches are so accommodating. Baseball Coach Mark Marquss and football Coach Tyrone Willingham both earned three letters in each sport. And while missing the entire fall may slow Borchard down a little bit, he has definitely gotten back into the groove: he's starting in right field for a team that is 29-12 overall, 14-4 in Pac-10 play and ranked fourth nationally.
"I certainly started off a little slower than I did last year," he said. "A lot more was expected of me from the get-go this year. Over the past couple weeks I think it's been getting better." Borchard has hit .357 over the last 14 games to up his average to .333, and he is on an eight-game hitting streak. That has helped the Cardinal improve throughout the season, including sweeps of No. 20 Arizona State and Arizona, two of the top challengers in the Pac-10 this year.
"I think we're definitely a team that can go as far as we want, but we have to keep improving," he said. "Last year, we had a great team, but I don't know if we kept getting better, and it caught up to us at the end. This year, I think we're getting better as the season goes on, and if we keep it up, I can see us in the postseason, going as far as we want."
His optimism also carries over to football. "We have a lot of returnees coming back, 19 of 22 (starters) or something like that," he said. "I think we're going to be a lot better than we were last year. But it all comes down to what you do on Saturdays. There wasn't too much between seven-and-four and three-and-eight for us last year. With our experience, I think we can go out there and get it done and win some games, hopefully go to a bowl."
And beyond that, Borchard will probably encounter a professional career in either football or baseball. He just doesn't know which one. "I'm not sure," he said. "I haven't looked that far ahead. I'm really just trying to concentrate on what I have to do right now, and see what comes."
And right now, that strategy seems to be working pretty well.