Baldwin’s Brookelle Holby shares passion for softball, horses

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Sunday, August 1, 2021 | 9:08 AM


Baldwin senior Brookelle Holby has been playing softball for most of her life.

A right-handed pitcher, Holby was a Big 56 first-team all-section selection as a junior this spring.

“I expect Brookelle to pick up next season right where she left off,” Baldwin coach Gina Fuchs said. “She emerged as one of the best pitchers in our section. She was the leader in the circle who pitched a bulk of our innings.

“She kept us in almost every game, and that’s all I expect from her for next year’s team.”

Holby, however, has an unique passion outside of softball.

“I do work at a local horse farm,” she said. “I ride and work with the horses all year round.

“Since I was young, I was always drawn to the horse world, to the amazing animals and their personalities. Connecting with such a powerful animal and having the strength to be patient with them is what I am in it for. The feeling of being on a horse and feeling that wind in your face is everything I imagined.”

Holby’s first ride on a horse took place when she was around 12 years old, but it wasn’t until her 16th birthday that she was drawn permanently to the equestrian world.

“I couldn’t have been happier that I did. It was my dream come true,” she said.

This summer, Holby has been a dedicated volunteer at Quest Stables rescue barn in South Park.

“It’s a very small and very cute little place,” she said. “When I’m at the barn I’m usually responsible for doing clean-up operations and horse grooming. When I have time I like to school horses and ride for fun.

“Back when I was not so busy, I would help haul horses to their new homes. Those were always the best adventures. Seeing these horses go to their forever home is the biggest treat of all. The new owners are always so happy and in turn that puts a smile on my face.”

Fuchs believes her star pitcher’s passion in stables carries over to some of her success in the spring softball season.

“I know taking care of horses is hard work,” Fuchs said, “and Brookelle certainly loves to spend a lot of time with her horses. It can only help strengthen her, I’m sure.”

Holby, who turns 18 in September, plans to continue her softball career at Lake Erie College, to study therapeutic horsemanship and learn to train horse for therapy purposes.

“I will be working (after her college graduation) with young kids and adults with cognitive, physical, behavioral or mental illness,” she said. “I will work with therapy horses to help my patients connect with them as a learning and coping mechanism.

“In addition, I will be certified as a rider and horse trainer, and certified in equine message therapy. This is extremely important to me as I have struggled with Generalized Anxiety Disorder my whole life. Horses and animals in general are something that really help me to relax. I’ve learned that horses are the best listeners. They may not give good advice, but they will always be there to dry your tears, and listen to your endless rants. That is what I want to do for my future clients.”

Holby was one of the eight juniors on the Baldwin softball team in 2021. She is a National Honor Society member with a 3.56 GPA, and a percussionist in the school’s marching band. Her favorite classes are anatomy, and U.S. History.

Holby said music and performance is and always will be a big part of her life.

“I have been around music my whole life,” Holby said. “My father plays the trumpet and has been a big inspiration for me.

“I play trumpet on stage in concert band. Although I am a wind player, I double as a percussionist in the drum-line for marching band. I play snare. I can tell you carrying a 50-pound drum is no easy task, especially while you are playing and remembering where on the field you’re supposed to stand and at what count. It comes with hard work, but I wouldn’t trade the hours of sweat, sunburn, bruises and tears for the world.”

Holby has played softball since she was 4 and participated in T-ball. She competes in travel ball in the offseason as a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Lady Roadrunners, and will be a fourth-year varsity starter at Baldwin next spring.

“I play softball year-round,” Holby said. “When spring roles around, Baldwin softball is my priority.

“Since the end of school, every weekend has been (traveling to) softball tournaments, and occasional early band rehearsals. We have traveled as far as Buffalo, and soon will be heading to Myrtle Beach.

“Softball practices for me are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On top of that, I have been focused on filling out my college applications.”

The Holby family also traveled to Walt Disney World in Orlando.

“Scrambling to get ready for this trip took some time,” Holby said. “Due to the pandemic, my family and I were unable to travel. Since I was young my family has traveled to Disney every summer, and it felt amazing to be back there with my family.”

Holby and her travel squad qualified for the Softball World Series in Myrtle Beach. After that, she will attend Baldwin’s band camp.

“It has been one crazy summer, and the craziness has only just begun,” Holby said. “I am going into my senior year and obviously we have the fun festivities that come with that.”

With so many players expected to return for their senior season, Baldwin will look to make a strong WPIAL playoff push in 2022. The Highlanders lost to WPIAL champion Bethel Park in the first round of the playoffs this year, finishing 4-10 overall.

One of the season highlights was Holby’s no-hitter tossed May 1 against Peters Township.

“I think this season was one for the books,” Holby said. “After coming back from a pandemic, there was a lot to focus and build on. We as a team had our highs and lows as every season does, but we fought harder than ever to get back to where we left off.

“I see the talent on the team and I expect us all to get out there, play hard, have fun. I believe in Baldwin softball, and I plan to make this season one to cherish.”

Fuchs is anxious to watch Holby continue her growth pattern on the diamond.

“I think BK’s strengths are that she works ahead (in the count), has good command of her pitches and can locate them well. I look forward to seeing BK continue to grow into a leader in the circle next year.

“And I expect us to grow from this year. We played a tough schedule and I think that can only help us as we head into next season.”

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