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Buckhead girl, 12, an NYO baseball standout
by Greg Oshust
July 23, 2013 04:36 PM | 3362 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal<br>
NYO Titans standout Katie Goldberg warms up.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal
NYO Titans standout Katie Goldberg warms up.
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Katie Goldberg has been among the top players for the NYO Titans youth baseball team for the past few years, succeeding as a girl in a sport dominated by boys.

For all her past success, nothing can top what the 12-year old Buckhead resident, a rising seventh-grader at Marist, has accomplished on the diamond this summer.

Katie has hit 11 home runs in 36 games – including three home runs in one game – to lead the way for the Titans.

Her exploits on the baseball field have attracted the attention of the media, including an appearance on Katie Couric’s talk show, “Katie.”

For Katie, who plays third base and pitches for the Titans, her breakout season was simply a result of all the hard work she put in.

“I had a feeling it would be a big season, because I worked really hard,” Katie said. “I would come out here [to the NYO fields] with my dad [Craig] and work on my game.”

Titans coach Randy Rhino was impressed with Katie’s performance.

“I’ve been coaching for 17 years and I would put [Katie’s performance] right up there in the top 10 of any Titans’ summer season,” said Rhino, who was a three-time defensive back at Georgia Tech in the early 1970s. “The thing that struck me — I was amazed with how the ball jumped off her bat. Even her ground balls were hard. That was possibly the one thing that impressed me the most — how hard she hit the ball.”

The biggest moment for Katie was her three-home-run performance at the Triple Crown Classic in Cumming in late June.

She hit the home runs consecutively, with her final blow a grand slam.

“I was really surprised about how good I did,” Katie said. “I worked real hard in that game. My coaches were real proud of me.”

Adds Rhino, “In 17 years of coaching, I can’t remember any Titan ever hitting three home runs in a game.”

She also contributed a homer in the finals of the prestigious Cal Ripken tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C. — where the Titans finished runner-up in the 12-and-under division.

It was Katie’s brother Will — a rising ninth-grader at Marist — who inspired her passion for baseball, following her older sibling out to the NYO fields to watch him practice when she was a little girl.

“It started when I was about 4 and it was from my brother,” Katie said. “I would come out [to the baseball field] and watch my brother and I wanted to go out there and do that.”

Soon, she began to practice with her brother and immediately started to show a talent for the game as she joined the NYO’s T-Ball league at age 5.

“She was the best one on her team,” her mother Gail Goldberg said. “So, we knew pretty quick and that’s why she kept playing baseball. She didn’t play softball because she loves baseball. If she played softball, she would have to play up with girls who were two or three years older than her in order to be competitive, and we didn’t want to put her in that environment. We wanted her to be with kids that were her own age, even if they were boys.”

Rhino said Katie has developed into a strong all-around player.

“She runs well, she hits well, she’s a great third baseman,” Rhino said. “She has a cannon for an arm. She pitched for us. She does a lot of things for us and she does them very, very well.”

Jeff Woolverton, an NYO coach who has helped coach Katie as well as her older brother Will, said he was both surprised and not surprised by her accomplishments this summer.

“She’s the hardest worker we’ve ever had,” Woolverton said. “She’s a gym rat and she’s taking extra practice all the time — before practice, after practice. Always wants extra ground balls or batting instruction. She’s got a tremendous arm — maybe the strongest arm on the team — and we’ve got some good players.

“She’s a great hitter with great power. She’s one of those five-tool players. She’s fast, she hits with power and has a consistent average. She’s our third baseman and a great pitcher. She’s one of our horses on the mound, pitching-wise and probably our third pitcher as far as innings go, but still consistent all the time.”

A video of Katie’s three-home-run game, which Rhino posted on YouTube, attracted the attention of the staff of “Katie.”

Gail Goldberg got a call from the show and Katie appeared on the air with Couric in a segment called “One to Watch” July 15.

“It was really fun, going out there and talking to another person about what I do,” Katie said. “It was kind of nerve-wracking, but it was fun.”

While Katie has been successful up to this point, the question is how much longer she will be able to compete against boys as they get bigger and stronger going into adolescence.

Her first big test will come next spring as she tries out for the Marist middle school baseball team. She also plans to play on the school’s softball squad this fall.

“I’m going to give it a shot and see what I can do,” Katie said.
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