NCS Freshman of the Year
BLAKE BURKE, DE LA SALLE
From day one of his freshman season at De La Salle, 6-foot-2 Blake Burke was ready to go to work, even if it meant changing positions for someone who came into high school with extensive experience playing at a high level.
“(Blake) had not played a lot of outfield before, but he put a lot of time into that,” said De La Salle coach David Jeans. “We knew right away, during tryouts, that his ceiling was pretty high. His travel experiences, such as USA Baseball, made him ready to go from the first day.”
In Burke’s first high school game, he was held hitless in a loss to Bellarmine, but that was remedied almost immediately. His first high school hit - a double - came in the next game, a blowout win over River Valley-Yuba City, but he really made his mark in the third game of the year, facing eventual CCS Division II champion Saint Francis-Mountain View. In that game, Burke homered and doubled twice, as part of what would become a 12-game hitting streak for the freshman.
“He has a maturity about him that is off the charts, in a baseball sense,” Jeans added. “We run a sophisticated program, and he picked up on all the things we do very quickly, which allowed him to contribute to our lineup right away.”
Burke not only contributed to a loaded Spartans’ lineup, but at the end of the year, the team awarded him the Silver Slugger honor, recognition reserved for the top bat in the lineup. He homered twice more during that initial hitting streak, even as opposing teams began to pitch away from his big bat.
“Blake started off hot, so a lot of teams started pitching him away, especially at our place,” Jeans said. “He really learned to go the other way, and hit through the middle. He worked through it, got dialed back in, and his maturity really took over.”
After his early hitting streak ended against Elk Grove, Burke responded with back-to-back multi-hit games, including a triple, double, and four RBIs in a 10-8 win over Livermore. As late April transitioned into early May, Burke had another short four-game hitting streak, punctuated by home runs in back-to-back wins, including a grand slam against Monte Vista. His production continued all the way through the Spartans’ run to the NCS Division I title, with four RBIs in the playoffs.
For the season, Burke batted .345 with five home runs, nine doubles, and 30 RBIs. Adding to his impressive transition into the outfield was the fact he did not commit an error in 28 total chances.
“He was never overwhelmed,” Jeans concluded. “Physically and mentally, he has what it takes to be successful.”
For his efforts throughout the season, we are pleased to recognize Blake Burke as the Prep2Prep North Coast Section Freshman of the Year.
Other players considered include Petaluma’s Garett Lewis, St. Patrick-St. Vincent’s Stefan Foley, Petaluma’s Gavin Ochoa, and California School for the Deaf’s Jaden Reader.