By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
Three ACL tears in her left knee weren’t enough to slow Brooke Goad. Turns out, rise balls and collegiate pitchers weren’t much of bother for the 2013 Waxahachie graduate, either.
And she now has a National Player of the Decade recognition to prove it, as Justin’s World of Softball named Goad the outlet’s best Division II softball player of the 2010s on Friday.
Goad ultimately slugged an NCAA Division II record 90 home runs and drew 218 base-on-balls over her five-year career at Southern Arkansas University from 2013-18.
Eighteen of those round-trippers came while practically playing on one leg during her junior season, a year in which she continued to roam centerfield for the Muleriders. She appeared in 58 games that season and recorded a .349-batting average, .771-slugging percentage, 50 walks and an impressive .971-fielding percentage (66 putouts) — all without an attached ACL in her left knee.
Yet, as impressive as that redshirt junior season was, Goad’s bat and eye were just as remarkable during her four other seasons at SAU.
Goad first slugged 15 home runs during her freshman campaign, which came to an abrupt halt after her first of three ACL tears. This one came just past the halfway point of that first season. She had already managed to draw 20 free passes and 38 hits over those first 36 games, too.
Goad then reinjured the same ACL nine games into her sophomore season, earning her an unfortunate medical redshirt after 45 games and 22 home runs.
She followed the injury with a program- and Great American Conference-best 23 home runs in 2016, leading SAU to the DII College World Series.
Goad then posted the incredible one-legged junior campaign on her way to a career defensive effort that saw the center fielder commit just 14 errors with 255 putouts for a .949-career fielding percentage. She was a magnet. Or a vacuum. Whichever you prefer.
Prior to her senior season, Goad returned to Dallas for her third ACL reconstructive surgery. The procedure even made her consider calling it a career.
Goad went on to launch a new SAU -, GAC- and DII-best 32 home runs to run her career total to 90. She also posted a new SAU-, GAC- and DII-single-season record in walks (91).
Her 218 career walks are also a record in all three books, as were her nine consecutive walks during a four-game series against Henderson State on April 8-9, 2019. She was ultimately issued 12 free passes in 14 plate appearances over that stretch.
Goad reached base safely in the first 50 games of her senior season. In fact, she only failed to reach base safely once during her senior campaign that saw the Muleriders finish with a 60-11 record and DII College Wolrd Series semifinal appearance.
Goad was an all-time great in the box, there is no doubting that.
To put Goad’s 90 career home runs into perspective, she was once high school teammates with Ariel Ortiz, who graduated from Waxahachie High in 2014 and went on to a career at Texas State University.
Ortiz set the Texas State softball program single-season record in 2017 with 15 round-trippers. She ultimately posted a program-best 39 home runs for her career.
Goad, meanwhile, slugged 34 home runs over her senior and nine-game sophomore season alone.
Following her stellar playing career, Goad has since joined the coaching staff at SAU.
“[I am] incredibly honored and humbled to receive such recognition,” Goad tweeted shortly after the announcement. “Without God, my family or my team, none of this would have been possible! [I’m] so blessed to have played this game and now be a part of coaching it!”
According to the JWOS announcement, Goad is “one of the most potent power hitters in recent memory, and in Division II softball history.”
Goad ultimately finished her career tied for third on the all-time NCAA softball home run list. Her 90 dingers trailed only Oklahoma Sooner Lauren Chamberlian (95, 2012-15) and Arizona Wildcat Katiyana Mauga (92, 2014-17).
Stacey Nuveman, who attended UCLA from 1997-2002, also slugged 90 home runs over her collegiate career.
According to SAU Athletics, Goad also set the following records as a Mulerider:
- Great American Conference Player of the Year (2018)
- Four-time All-Great American Conference selection (1st team three-times)
- National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) and Schutt Sports top-10 finalist for the National Division II Player of the Year (2018)
- National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) and the Division II Conference Commissioner’s Association (D2CCA) All-American (2018)
- National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) first-team All-Central Region (2018)
- Division II Conference Commissioner’s Association (D2CCA) as the Central Region’s Player of the Year (2018)
- SAU and conference record for slugging percentage (.994, 2018)
- Conference record for consecutive plate appearances with a walk (9)
- Owns eight single-season and nine career SAU offensive records
“Goad left an indelible mark on the game,” the JWOS release notes, “and now serves as an assistant coach at her alma mater, tutoring a new generation of Mulerider offensive weapons.”
Justin’s World of Softball is the self-anointed premier home for Division 1, professional, and international softball coverage. The staff includes Cassie Tysarczyk, a four-year letter winner at Texas A&M University from 2011-14; Megan Turk, a three-year starter at third base for the Baylor Bears from 2008-12; and Nate Tompkins, a former collegiate softball coach.
It’s safe to say, the group is undoubtedly more credentialed to name a player of the decade than most.
BEST OF THE BEST
According to similar announcements, the other two JWOS Players of the Decade included Valerie Arioto (Team USA) and Rachel Garcia (Division I; UCLA).
Arioto is a four-time World Cup of Softball gold medalist, while the first baseman helped Team USA win a pair of gold and silver medals in the Softball World Championships in the process.
Garcia, meanwhile, was a two-time National Player of the Year and led the Bruins to their 13th national championship along the way. She became just the fourth softball player to earn back-to-back National Player of the Year awards following her senior season that included a .343-batting average, 11 home runs and a tidy 1.14 ERA inside the circle with 29 wins and 286 strikeouts.
Garcia, who will redshirt this year, is currently a candidate for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo as a member of Team USA.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith