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Goldberg repeats as Telegram’s top softball player

Superior High School’s Brandie Goldberg is the Superior Telegram Player of the Year for the second straight season. Goldberg will attend Minnesota Duluth in the fall and play softball for the Bulldogs. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

For the past four seasons, a trip to Superior High School has meant a showdown with Brandie Goldberg.

The Spartans’ No. 1 pitcher has quite a reputation.

She can be intimidating — almost scary — when she stares down a batter.

“You want to look scary, I guess,” said Goldberg, smiling.

But “scary” is the last word you’d hear from the people who know Goldberg best.

“She’s really a big teddy bear, to be honest with you,” said Stewart Goldberg, Brandie’s father.

Away from the softball field, Brandie Goldberg is cheery and outgoing. She has a soft spot for the less fortunate and a drive to help others, her father said. When she isn’t striking out batters by the dozen, she spends time working with special needs students and coaching youth softball players.

“She’s more than just the pitcher you see,” Stewart Goldberg said. “But she’s a competitor. She’s nasty on the mound.”

Brandie Goldberg leaves SHS with a career record of 60-19. She accumulated 770 strikeouts over her four years with the Spartans and helped lead Superior to three Lake Superior Conference titles and two WIAA Division 1 regional titles.

Her 180 strikeouts this year are second only to her junior season, when she struck out 257 batters in 151 1/3 innings.

For her efforts Goldberg has been named the Superior Telegram Player of the Year for the second straight season.

Goldberg pitched 116 1/3 innings in her senior season as she battled a hand injury late in the year. She compiled a 13-3 record with a 2.046 ERA and gave up only 27 walks on the season.

At the plate, Goldberg contributed 20 hits and 16 RBIs. She struck out just four times and finished with a .303 batting average.

“Outstanding pitcher and a real good hitter,” said Mike Sather, head coach of the Spartans.

Goldberg was named to the Lake Superior Conference All-Conference first team and was named honorable mention for the Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association All-District Large School team.

Both awards are a great honor, Goldberg said, but she wishes her teammates would receive an equal share.

“It’s a cliché, but I really couldn’t have done it without them. It takes nine people to play a game, and people don’t notice everyone else’s roles on the team as much as a pitcher,” she said. “It was definitely hard getting all the recognition and watching my other teammates not be able to do that, because their positions are just as important as mine.”

Goldberg has a close connection to her Spartan teammates. She’s played with several of them since middle school, when she joined fellow seniors Lanie DeMeyer, Erika Olson, Allie Thul and Hannah Thul on the inaugural Twin Ports Rampage team.

“It’s kind of weird to think that we were the first team and now we’re gone,” Goldberg said.

Stewart Goldberg was no less amazed to see his daughter walk off the field with her friends for the last time.

He remembers when she first developed an interest in softball. Brandie was 7 at the time and begged him to let her join a team with some of her friends from Billings Park.

He signed her up and was promptly asked to coach the team.

“I took it on kind of reluctantly,” Stewart Goldberg said. He had ample experience coaching youth sports, but he’d planned to watch his daughter from the bleachers, not the dugout.

That idea didn’t pan out.

After serving as his daughter’s first coach, Stewart Goldberg continued that role in various capacities as she moved from the Superior Youth Organization to the Twin Ports Rampage club team. He traveled with his daughter to hundreds of games — and national tournaments — before she became the Spartans’ top pitcher four years ago.

Now, Brandie Goldberg is looking forward to her college career with the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs.

 “It seems like it took about two seconds,” Stewart Goldberg said. “The last few years have gone by too fast.”

Brandie Goldberg said she, too, is surprised by how quickly the years passed, but she is excited to play for Coach Jen Walter at UMD.

When Walter was head coach at the College of St. Scholastica, Goldberg attended many of her camps. She was leaning toward becoming a Saint when Walter took over the reins at UMD in July 2015.

Goldberg questioned whether she had the talent to play Division II softball, but after a strong junior season Walter reached out to her.

“She ended up wanting me there too, which was like a dream come true,” Goldberg said.

The Spartan grad said she owes a debt to all of her coaches — from her early SYO and Rampage years through high school — but especially to her first coach.

“I have to thank my dad,” Goldberg said. “I know it’s been hard for him because he coached me for the last time this summer, and now it’s like he just has to let me go out on my own.”

Goldberg will be on her own with the Bulldogs next season, but in some ways, the dynamic with her father won’t change.

Through all of her years playing softball, Goldberg said, her father was a coach second and a dad first.

“He has this rule that we don’t talk after a game about anything that has to do with softball,” Goldberg said. “So if I make a bad play, something like that, he’ll tell me the next day. I really appreciate that.

“He has unconditional love for me, (so) whether I just gave up four home runs in the same game or struck out five D1 players, he’s happy that I’m playing the game I love. He definitely made that all possible.”

On the rise

Brandie Goldberg made steady improvements as a pitcher during her four years at SHS.

In her first season, she was unknown — a hard-throwing freshman with a drop curve and a bright future.

By her sophomore season, opponents held a healthy respect for the Spartan ace. They scouted games to see her best pitches and prepared batters for what to expect.

Goldberg’s strikeout total, however, continued to climb. In her final three seasons with the Spartans, Goldberg averaged about 1.5 strikeouts per inning pitched.

“The pitcher can literally tell you what she’s throwing, and you still won’t be able to hit it if they’re a good enough pitcher,” Goldberg said.

This year, the senior frequently heard third-base coaches warning players about what pitch she would throw.

Oftentimes, it did no good.

“Girls this age, there’s a million things running through your mind, and I don’t think you are worried about watching a rise ball come in and trying to lay off of it or hit it,” Goldberg said.

The rise ball was Goldberg’s signature pitch the past two seasons with the Spartans. She also throws a mean change-up and has good velocity on her fastball, but it’s her rise ball that batters dread.

“What’s nice about that pitch is instincts tell you it’s right here and then it’s right there,” Goldberg said. “You either swing and you hit it really high, or you just swing and miss, or you get lucky and your instincts tell you not to swing.”

Superior Telegram Softball  Players of the Year

2017 — Brandie Goldberg, Sr., Superior

2016 — Brandie Goldberg, Jr., Superior

2015 — Maddie Spangenberg, Sr., Northwestern

2014 — Kaitlin Heinen, Jr., Superior

2013 — Jessica Lindstrom, Jr., Superior

2012 — Shelby Schultz, Sr., Northwestern

2011 — Teagen Harings, Jr., Northwood

2010 — Katie Sohn, Sr., Northwood

2009 — Lindsay Garay, Sr., Northwestern

2008 — Amanda LeBard, Sr., Superior

2007 — Taylor VanDamme, Sr., Superior

2006 — Amanda LeBard, So., Superior

2005 — Kalli Kucharyski, Sr., Superior

2004 — Kalli Kucharyski, Jr., Superior

2003 — Kalli Kucharyski, So., Superior

2002 — Leah Moder, Sr., Superior

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