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Thompson Telegram’s top player

Superior High School’s Erin Thompson rounds the bases after hitting one of her seven home runs at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex. Thompson is the 2018 Superior Telegram Player of the Year. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

Emily Kram

For the Superior Telegram

Some athletes enjoy the notoriety that comes with success. Others try to downplay the hype.

Superior High School senior Erin Thompson falls into the latter category. She spent four softball seasons with the Spartans trying to temper expectations.

“It’s not going to be a game of 100 percent perfection,” Thompson said. “It’s kind of a game of failures, and when you succeed then that’s the positive part.”

Thompson, however, achieved perfection the moment she began playing for the Spartans.

In her varsity debut as a freshman, she went 3-for-3 at the plate with two home runs — one of which was a grand slam — and seven RBIs.

That stunning performance — and expectations of similar perfection — followed Thompson for the remainder of her high school career.

“It comes up in most conversations about softball,” she said.  “That game is something that a lot of people know me from.”

It became a running joke to ask Thompson how many more home runs she planned to hit. Her ability to hit for power was well known among opponents, and Superior fans cheered loudly whenever she stepped up to the plate.

Yet for Thompson, the clamor passed by unnoticed.

“My at bats, I kind of block everything out,” she said. “I can’t even really hear my teammates cheering because I’m so focused on my at bat.”

Thompson, the 2018 Superior Telegram Player of the Year, continued to deliver for the Spartans at the plate and in the field during her senior season.

In 90 at-bats, she had 42 hits, which included nine doubles, six triples and seven home runs — all team highs. Thompson also ranked first on the team in runs scored (34), RBIs (40) and slugging percentage (1.428) and ranked second in batting average (.467) and on-base percentage (.495).

“I consider Erin to be the best softball player in the Lake Superior Conference,” SHS coach Mike Sather said. “Erin could arguably be the best hitter ever at SHS.”

At shortstop, Thompson helped direct the defense and served as a leader on a team filled with underclassmen.

“We had a really young team, so I felt like it was a big surprise how good we were doing with how young of a team we had,” Thompson said. “All the girls really worked together and it was a really fun season.”

The Spartans jumped out to a 7-0 start this season and an eventual 20-7 record. Superior claimed its fourth consecutive LSC softball title and won a WIAA Division 1 regional title.

Thompson was named to the LSC All-Conference first team and was selected to play in the 2018 Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association (WFSCA) Senior All Star Game, which was held June 11-12. The senior was also named WFSCA All-District honorable mention.

Thompson will stay close to home next year, playing for the University of Minnesota Bulldogs and head coach Jen Walter.

“I’ve always really wanted to play for UMD and especially for Jen,” Thompsons said. “I’m really excited, especially because I know a lot of the girls.”

Thompson will be joining Northwestern graduate Lexi Janigo and Hermantown standout Jordyn Thomas. Janigo was a sophomore this season, while Thomas was a freshmen.

Thompson hopes to have an impact in the field as an underclassman, but in typical fashion, she isn’t sure how successful she will be at the plate.

“It’s always something that anyone can get better at and practice more of,” she said. “I’m still out there striking out once in a while, so it’s not a perfectionist kind of thing.”

NOTES: Erin Thompson’s earliest softball memories are of attending games when her older sister, Taylor Thompson, pitched for the Spartans.

“I used to go there and I would run in the dugout and hang out with her teammates. I’ve just always been at a softball field,” Thompson said. “I grew up with softball around me all the time.”

Thompson said her parents and two older sisters have always served as both her inspiration and support.

Superior Telegram

Softball Players of the Year

2018 — Erin Thompson, Sr., Superior

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