DII softball's new home run queen talks walks, dingers and life in the potent Southern Arkansas lineup
When Brooke Goad launched her 22nd home run of the season Friday night, she made DII softball history. The shot to deep right-centerfield was the 80th of her career, breaking the all-time mark for home runs set by Steph Denlinger of Kutztown in 2009.
Denlinger hit her 79 home runs in 226 career games. It took Goad 213 games to set the mark.
It didn't look like it would happen as opposing pitchers stopped giving Goad pitches to hit. Last weekend, for example, Goad walked 12 times in a four-game series, recording just two official at-bats. After a nine-walk weekend, she is now tied with West Texas A&M alumna Alyssa Lemos for the most career walks in DII softball history with 179. That record is all but hers the way pitchers try to avoid her big bat.
Goad hit in the same lineup as Maddie Dow the past few seasons. Dow chased the home run record herself last season, finishing her illustrious Muleriders career with 74, which turned out to be a very brief program record at Southern Arkansas. Head coach Jason Anderson has certainly got the most out of his bats in his lineup since taking over four years ago.
NCAA.com caught up with the new DII softball Home Run Queen to talk walks, bombs and Muleriders' softball.
On the historic blast:
Honestly, I didn't think it was going to go out. I thought I was super out in front of the ball. I hadn't really seen too much decent pitching here lately, and rightfully so, I don't particularly blame them. I finally got a pitch I thought I could drive, and then I got out in front of it, so I was already beating myself up. It actually kind of took off, and I thought, 'this sucker might actually get out there.' Then I heard screaming and I don't know who it was yelling, 'that's the one.' Sure enough, it went out. It was an awesome experience.
On the pressure of trying to set a record:
I keep telling everybody after Henderson walked me all those times last weekend that I hit home runs not to help you guys out or help me out. I hit home runs because I'm old and I don't like to walk. I just like to get around the bases and get back in the dugout.
I'm usually pretty good about being selective in the box. I know that any pitching I do get is not going to be the best. I have to be careful about seeing the junk pitches and if I do get one to hit that I execute that one. I knew stepping into the box that I'm going to get a lot of outside pitches. I didn't think with the wind blowing to right field that anyone would pitch me inside. So I was looking away or for a changeup. This one was a pretty decent changeup, so I knew I had to make contact with that one.
On learning to take walks:
Coach Anderson moved me to leadoff for this reason exactly — a lot of people have started to walk me. It's crucial to get out a leadoff hitter, but if they're going to put me on that's an opportunity for the rest of our lineup to execute and move me around. His philosophy so far has worked. Putting me in the leadoff spot was smart on his part. When I get that leadoff walk, I'm not concerned about not hitting a home run. I'm there to do a job for my team. That's ultimately my goal.
On hitting with Maddie Dow:
Maddie Dow is a good friend of mine. It was always fun to have that competitor against you to push you to be better and create that drive. She was definitely that person. Whether she says it or not, I know back and forth we both had a little bit of envy for each other. One would hit one and then the other would be like, 'ok, I got to get one, too.' We grew up together in college and we came in the same year and it's always been a competition for the two of us. It's been awesome to have her, and have her on the same team in the lineup was definitely something special. I miss her a lot.
On teams and players she watched:
I grew up watching baseball and hockey. I'm from Texas, so I'm definitely a Rangers fan. But my dad was a very big Dallas Stars hockey fan, we watched a lot together. Mike Modano is one of my all-time favorites. It's not because of his athletic ability, but the way he commanded the ice. He was a leader enough to know that in some cases he didn't need to be the captain, sometimes he just needed to step down and push his guys to be better and play whatever role the game asked him to play. Ultimately I think that says a lot more about an athlete than anything else.
Favorite sports movie:
Coach Anderson makes us watch Moneyball a lot, but quite frankly, I just take a nap because I can't do it anymore. I don't really have an all-time favorite sports movie. Don't get me wrong, I love a good movie. I like Gladiator, or Braveheart, or Patriot. I'm kind of an old soul. I grew up watching Tombstone with my dad and, 'I'm your Huckleberry," type of guys.
On her legacy:
I want to be remembered as the athlete that never gave up despite three ACL reconstructions. Each time that I came back I pushed harder. When the game pushes at you, or life hands you adversity, you take it. You allow it to humble you and make you grow. I know a lot of players will take strikeouts, or coaches yelling at them, or failure in general and let it cripple them rather than saying that this is a chance to step up and be better. Each knee surgery took a toll on my body, but each time it allowed me to be better.