Dahlberg, 13, proving to be a rising star in Rancho Bernardo
By Michael Bower
Konner Dahlberg turned 13 in July. She stands 6-feet tall and can fire a softball 60 mph from 40 feet. The reaction time hitters have is equivalent to major leaguers facing a 90 mph fastball.
Many consider the eighth-grader the most dominant pitcher in the nation for her age group. That label picked up steam after Dahlberg helped the San Diego Surge 99 to the ASA 12-Under National championship in August.
UCLA has already started to show interest in recruiting the young star from Rancho Bernardo. And that’s where Dahlberg stands right now. But how she got to the pitching circle is even more interesting.
“I tell this story all the time,” said Del Norte High softball coach Steve Kuptz, who has been coaching since 1991. “She was 7 years old. I watched her play one inning and it was the only inning she pitched all season long for the recreation league. She threw a ball that bounced off the backstop and hit it so hard I thought, ‘oh my goodness.’”
Kuptz, who at the time was coaching current Notre Dame star pitcher Laura Winter at Rancho Bernardo High, knew he had seen something special. He was so convinced that he invited Dahlberg to play on the 8-and-under Rancho Bernardo all-star team.
“The people picking the team thought I was crazy,” Kuptz recalled. “She was all over the place when we started. She didn’t know which foot to put where. After three weeks, she was inconsistent, but you could see she had the ability.”
By the third tournament of the summer, Dahlberg pitched that all-star team to the finals.
“It was awesome,” said Richard Dahlberg, Konner’s father. “She was the youngest player on the team. She went from throwing the ball off the top of the backstop to, by the end of the year, being one of the top pitchers on the team. Playing for coach Kuptz is part of the reason she loves the game so much.”
A year later Dahlberg help hurl the all-star team to a 36-1-4 record, including a 4-0 mark at the state championships. She was clearly on her way to stardom.
“Obviously, she has continued to work hard and develop,” Kuptz said. “She has all the qualities you expect to see a pitcher have who is going to have a long and successful future — as long as she stays focused and committed.”
That does not seem to be a problem. Dahlberg has two pitching coaches, Bill Corbett and Alyssa Cunningham, and has been playing travel ball for two years now. She practically plays year around, taking only about a month off each year.
She recently went to a pitching lesson after a break from practicing and her dad forgot his glove. He tried to convince her to take another week off, but that plea never stood a chance.
“I ended up using a left-handed glove,” Richard said.
“I am so proud of her work ethic and her great attitude,” he added. “She is now putting in extra work to keep her grades at a high level so she can be ready for high school next year.”
So does Dahlberg ever get burnt out?
“I do at times, but not very often,” she said. “I love the competition and being able to go play with my friends. I just love pitching.”
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