West Salem's one-handed relief pitcher as tenacious as they come - KPTV - FOX 12

West Salem's one-handed relief pitcher as tenacious as they come

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Alex Hurlburt (KPTV) Alex Hurlburt (KPTV)
SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

The OSAA baseball playoffs begin on Monday and the 32 teams that make up the 6A bracket are all hoping their road leads them to Volcanoes Stadium for the championship in Keizer on June 2. 

As Greater Valley Conference champions and a fifth seed in the big dance, West Salem is looking to advance to the title game on the diamond for the first time in over a decade. 

Junior pitcher Alex Hurlburt toes the slab in spot relief, but the big lefty is the kind of kid that makes you take notice when he's on the hill. 

Tuck, pitch and glove up. 

“Now, it's just natural … can do it just as fast as anyone else would be able to,” said Hurlburt. 

Hurlburt has been working with his baseball mitt just like his mom and dad taught him so many years ago. 

“We had a VCR tape of Jim Abbott's no-hitter,” he said. 

The West Salem junior is teaching tape for any other young kid who may be missing a limb. 

“It was just a blood vessel that didn't form all of the way,” said Hurlburt.

Along the way, the teases, snickers and bullies have come and gone and some have never left. 

“Still try to say things that they think is a way to get me down, but I think every time that happens it makes me want to do better, play better, just do things to a higher level and I think that has been one of the greatest motivations I have had. Just people doubting me,” Hurlburt said. 

After spending years at catcher, Hurlburt moved 60 feet and 6 inches the other way in high school – on the bump. And his coaches know what they're going to get when the tenacious Titan gets released from the bullpen. 

“Bulldog. That’s his approach, mentality. I think that's how he attacks everything,” said co-interim head coach Taylor Blair. 

Not just in baseball, but in life. 

“I was a pitcher myself and so using both arms was a really big key to some of those balance things and pitching. So for him to be able to do that and only having one extremity, it's pretty cool,” said Blair.

So too are Hurlburt’s one-handed hits in the cage. 

While baseball is his first love, football is what really revs him up now. 

A First Team All-State defensive lineman who feasts on opposing quarterbacks, Hurlburt's 3.86 GPA has universities on the lookout, having already been offered a full-ride scholarship to study and play for Carroll College in Helena. 

“It's not because I have one hand, it's because I play well,” Hurlburt said. “It's not because people take it easy on me, they take it just like anyone else.” 

Nothing is impossible. Just look at Seahawks rookie linebacker Shaquem Griffin, the first one-handed man drafted in modern NFL history. 

“Fifty to 100 people sent me that link that he had been drafted and all of those people being confident that I could be at that point too was really, really comforting,” said Hurlburt. 

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