Ellen Goldsher pitched the softballs.
Her daughter, Jenny, hit them.
Again and again and again and …
“When I was younger, I dragged my mom to Fink Park and made her stand behind a screen and pitch BP to me from eight feet away,” recalls Highland Park High School senior catcher Jenny Goldsher. “My mom had never played softball, but that didn’t stop her from being there for me and supporting me.
“I enjoyed our time together at the park. My mom had a good time, too.”
But most area pitchers would rather be anywhere but inside a pitcher’s circle when Goldsher — a left-handed hitter who will continue to play softball at Rollins College in Winter Haven, Florida — nears the batter’s box as the No. 3 hitter in the Giants’ batting order.
Through 11 games this spring, the captain and fourth-year varsity starter was hitting .590 overall and an astounding .818 in four Central Suburban League North games.
Goldsher’s sizzling stick would fit right in with a roomful of steam pipes.
“We depend on her — on her hitting, on her fielding, on her leadership and on her communication skills,” says Giants junior center fielder Tessa Bojan. “She’s strong at the plate. Strong. You’re always going to get a ton of energy from Jenny.”
Goldsher’s verve abounded in an 11-5 loss to visiting Maine East on April 19, which, weather-wise, felt like an ideal day to battle in a Turkey Bowl football game on Thanksgiving. She went 4-for-4 at the plate — all singles, all hit sharply up the middle — stole two bases, scored two runs, nailed a base runner attempting to steal second and threw out another Blue Demon who had wandered off second base.
The 2016 all-CSL North player and Lake County Liberty club softball member had walked once and doubled twice in a loss to Deerfield earlier in the week.
“She loves the game, and she’s a student of the game,” says Highland Park softball coach Lydia Gonzalez of Goldsher, who batted .480 as a freshman, .325 as a sophomore and .487 last spring. “Jenny asks a lot of good questions, is self-reflective. She continues to grow as a player, with her skills and abilities, and she’s at that point in her career where we consider her a coach on the field.
“She’s had quite an impact,” the coach adds.
Goldsher strikes snare drums as cleanly as she drives pitched softballs. A member of the school’s marching band, as well as a percussionist since the fifth grade, Goldsher wrote the music to which she and her percussion ensemble cohorts performed at the school’s dance concert last month. Buckets served as makeshift drums, and garbage-can lids doubled as cymbals on that night.
“Being involved in band has been one of the best experiences in my life,” says Goldsher, who earned a varsity basketball letter in each of the past two winters. “I was able to go to Italy because of my commitment to band.”
Her next visit to another country will be her maiden one to Israel — all because of softball. Israel hosts the quadrennial Maccabiah Games July 5-17, when Goldsher will don Team USA threads for the women’s softball team. All but one of the selectees are either former or current college softball players.
The youngest of the contingent couldn’t sleep the night before her first varsity softball game in 2014, but the Giant still finished with two hits as a bleary-eyed freshman.
“It’s unbelievable, getting the chance to represent the United States in a competition like that, to play my favorite sport with and against older, high-level players,” says Goldsher, whose brother, Jay, is a junior pitcher at Grinnell College in Iowa who throws right and bats left — just like li’l sis.
Jenny Goldsher is minutes removed from a 4-for-4, errorless game. Perfect with the helmet on, perfect with the mask on. But she knows she never would have been able to grow — as a player and as a person — without the 0-for days at the plate and the tough days behind the plate.
“Softball teaches you how to cope with failure,” Goldsher says. “You’re never going to enjoy success each time you bat. You have to stay mentally tough and have that ‘OK, next time, next play’ mentality.
“Composure,” she adds, “is everything.”
Notable: Highland Park High School’s rally fell short in a 5-4 softball loss to visiting Glenbrook North on April 20. Natalie Abreu, Hannah Matthews, Jenny Goldsher (hit), Tessa Bojan (hit), Devin Davidson (hit) and Campbell Flower (hit) all reached base for the Giants (3-8, 0-4) in the bottom of the seventh inning. … A sacrifice fly from Davidson plated Goldsher to give HP a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the third inning in game against Maine East on April 19. But the Blue Demons scored five runs in the fourth inning en route to their 11-5 win.