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Throughout the summer, DartmouthSports.com will be focusing on members of the Class of 2018 who are currently in their “Sophomore Summers.”

Dustin Shirley went from a big city in Los Angeles to the Upper Valley and Dartmouth College in the fall of 2014. He quickly earned a spot in the lineup, seeing action in all but three games as a freshman. This past year, he hit .301 overall while leading the Big Green in runs scored, doubles, triples, stolen bases and slugging percentage.

You’re not on campus for your sophomore summer, so update us on what you’ve been up to since the spring term ended.
I literally left Dartmouth the day after my last final for North Adams, Massachusetts, and I have just been playing baseball every day and enjoying the company of new friends.

You finished second in the Ivy League with a .405 average in conference contests, earning All-Ivy honorable mention as well as the Big Green’s Most Improved Player award. What do you feel was the difference-maker for you from your freshman to your sophomore campaign?
I think that what allowed me to perform better was the strength that I gained throughout the summer, fall and winter leading into my sophomore season. I credit Coach Miller for his strength and conditioning programs, and I credit my brother for always being a great workout partner and supplying motivation when it wasn’t always there.

You have an older brother, Brandon, playing baseball at UC San Diego. What were the backyard Wiffle ball games like growing up in Los Angeles?
Pretty Intense. He was always bigger and stronger than me and always bent the rules in his favor, so I lost most of the contests by a long shot. But I think being able to adapt to his spontaneous rule changes allowed me to face some adversity from the start, and playing against someone bigger and stronger than me allowed me to experience high level competition at a young age as well.

Second base was your only position this past spring, but you’ve played everywhere on the infield at some point while at Dartmouth. Do you have a preference, and why?
I believe that each position poses a different set of challenges. Third base is the hot corner. Shortstop is the leader of the infield. Second base is involved in most double plays. And first base must pick up all the other infielders in case of a bad throw. So each position is difficult, but I think preference and comfort comes from the amount of reps you get at a position. So since I’ve mostly played second base, I feel most comfortable there. With that being said, I believe that I could become just as comfortable at any other position with time.

Baseball players are generally superstitious by nature. Why did you change from wearing four as your uniform number as a freshman to six this year?
Six has been my number since I started playing. The reason why I was four my freshman year was because six was being worn by Matt Parisi. When I was given the option to change my number, I almost didn’t because I didn’t want people to say that I was trying to be like Parisi. But I decided to suck it up and endure those comments. And in terms of being superstitious, I guess it worked out.

What was the draw for a city boy from Los Angeles to come to Dartmouth, located in a slightly more rural area known as the Upper Valley?
I’ve always wanted to go to an Ivy League Institution. And with me, I don’t like to think of myself as the typical city boy. My friends and I would always leave the city to go on hikes and find swimming holes. So being in a rural setting wasn’t the biggest change for me. To me a rural setting or an urban setting was not the deciding factor in my decision to come to Dartmouth. The sense of community that I felt when I came on my visit was very similar to what I experienced in high school, and that’s what sold me.

Is a hot dog a sandwich?
I'm a big fan of hot dogs, so I like to think that they are in their own distinct genre of food, like with hot links and other sausages.

What is your absolute most favorite thing to do on a baseball field?
There's nothing more satisfying then squaring a pitch up on the barrel of the bat, hearing that sound and hitting a ball right back up the middle.