Syracuse 2nd baseman Johnson offers versatility, leadership in freshman season


first_imgCurt Johnson has been coaching high school and travel softball in the Rochester, N.Y., area for more than 20 years.He enjoys the sport itself, in addition to helping young players develop their skills. Johnson has come to know talent when he sees it, so when his daughter Riley started making strides at a young age, he took notice.“She started playing around 9 and I really saw how good she was when she was 12,” Johnson said. “I could see she knew how to play the game and that she could handle a lot of different positions.”Six years after her father noticed her immense potential, freshman Riley Johnson finds herself earning significant playing time for the Orange (4-5). She’s already appeared in Leigh Ross’ lineup as a second baseman or designated hitter, and is proving right away she can play at the collegiate level.“Every step of the way is going to be a challenge as you get older,” Curt Johnson said. “She’s playing against better competition, but she is used to that. I’m proud of her so far.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMaking the leap from high school to college is not the only obstacle Riley Johnson has faced in her softball career. She was a pitcher before shoulder surgery forced a move to shortstop. Her high school play, though, shows she never missed a beat.Johnson was a six-year starter at Greece Athena High School in Rochester and two-time MVP. As a high school junior, she was the Class AA Player of the Year after hitting .514 with 25 RBIs. She finished high school with a .404 batting average, and Ross already likes her left-handed bat in the Syracuse order.“I like that she is a lefty hitter,” Ross said. “She is a contact hitter that is making adjustments and learning more of the power game, which will definitely be a threat.“But right now, we told her to focus on being a contact hitter, pushing runs across and getting on. If she focuses on the average the power will come.”Johnson has the ability to hit with contact and power in any part of the lineup, and can play multiple positions on the field. Ross said she has the option to play Johnson at second base, shortstop or in the outfield.Her vast skill set aside, Johnson’s greatest strength is her leadership ability, Ross said. Ross is already seeing the freshman lead.Curt Johnson’s seen it all along.“She was always taking charge and being a great leader,” Johnson said. “When you don’t have a leader, you notice that on the field and in the dugout, but a team with her on it has never had that problem.”Playing as a freshman, Riley Johnson doesn’t deny that nerves occasionally set in. Regardless, she trusts the skills that have gotten her this far, and is staying focused on the tasks that will help her team win.“I get a little nervous before games,” Johnson said. “But I know I have a job to do, and coach (Wallace) King and coach Ross have been working with us all fall and all winter, so I feel prepared.”In Syracuse’s first game of the season against Eastern Tennessee State at the Cougar Classic on Feb. 15, Johnson’s months of preparation paid off immediately. She doubled to right center field in her first collegiate at-bat, plating Corinne Ozanne and Veronica Grant to give the Orange a 3-0 lead in the first inning.When asked about the hit, Johnson didn’t think it was too big of a deal. These are the kinds of results she has come to expect.“I wasn’t thinking about who was on base at the time, I just saw the pitch and hit it,” Johnson said. “I didn’t need to slide into second, I went in standing up.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 26, 2013 at 11:46 pm Contact Jesse: jcdoug01@syr.edu | @dougherty_jesselast_img read more

Tipp ladies score resounding victory


first_imgThey’ve picked up their first win of the Division 3 season in emphatic fashion against Fermanagh.Tipp defeated the Ulster county 6-14 to 0-1 in Bansha.The Premier County led 2-7 to 0-1 at the break.last_img