Arrow-right Camera


Blake Hoorelbeke Coeur D’Alene Year: Freshman Sport: Softball Position: Pitcher/First Baseman

Thu., April 24, 1997, midnight

You could say it runs in the genes in the Hoorelbeke family. To be more precise, though, would be to say it runs in the arm.

And even more exact, the right arm.

Blake Hoorelbeke is the youngest of three pitchers. Her oldest brother, Jesse, pitched for two years at Coeur d’Alene High and is a starter as a freshman at first base for Washington State University.

The middle of three children, Casey, is a junior pitcher for the Vikings. He’s 4-1 going into this week.

But that ranks just second-best among the Hoorelbekes.

Blake is 7-2 overall, 6-0 in Inland Empire League games. She’s a large reason why the Vikings have a healthy and surprising lead after the first half of the league campaign.

“It’s a big surprise that we’ve done so well because we didn’t return any varsity starting pitchers,” CdA coach Larry Bieber said.

Bieber heaps much praise and credit for the Viks’ hot start in league on the capable shoulders of the 6-foot Hoorelbeke.

She leads the Viks in several statistics. Her earned-run average is 0.88, batters are hitting a frigid .140 against her and she’s hitting .480 in league with 10 RBIs. Her .425 overall average ranks second on the team.

Hoorelbeke’s velocity allows the Vikings to overshift defensively depending on which side of the plate an opponent is batting.

“She is just throwing BB’s,” Bieber said. “She’s got some big levers that allow her to throw hard.”

The scary thing, though, is Bieber can see Hoorelbeke’s speed increasing 5 to 10 mph.

“Right now she’s an arm thrower,” Bieber explained, watching Hoorelbeke put in some extra throws after her teammates had headed home. “When she learns to push off the rubber she’ll get even faster.”

Hoorelbeke has a natural throwing motion.

“She’s a very rhythmic pitcher; she’s just very smooth,” Bieber said.

Although she’d most likely be a dominating post player in basketball, Hoorelbeke plays just one other sport - volleyball.

She quit basketball in elementary school because she was too conspicuous. She was the second-tallest student in her class throughout elementary (including boys). The tallest student was another girl.

“That bothered me for a long time,” she said. “But now I like being tall. I think I’ve grown to like it just this year.”

She’s certainly an intimidating sight from just a short distance away on the pitcher’s mound.

Hoorelbeke has been surprised by her early success.

“I didn’t think I’d do this well,” she said. “I knew I could pitch. And it’s something I definitely want to do in college. But I thought it might be overwhelming playing (on varsity as a freshman).”

But the statistics show she’s adapted just fine.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

Click here to comment on this story »