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: [email protected] | @dougherty_jesselast_img read more

Jurgen Klopp likens England’s treatment of Liverpool youngster to that of a horse


first_imgLiverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has launched himself into a club-versus-country row less than two weeks into his reign after likening England’s handling of Jordan Rossiter to that of a horse.The 18-year-old returned from under-19 international duty with a hamstring injury after playing three matches of 90 minutes in five days.Klopp said the situation was not normal and he would be speaking to someone at the Football Association.Liverpool have recent history with the FA over treatment of players as just over a year ago Klopp’s predecessor Brendan Rodgers expressed his displeasure after Daniel Sturridge sustained a thigh injury during an England training session the day after an international match.“Rossiter is a special story. I never heard of an 18-year-old playing three games in five days,” he said.“That is the problem why he is injured and I don’t think he will be ready until the next international break.“I don’t know who I have to talk about this but I will find a way because it is not okay.“On my first day I didn’t want to have a call with someone with the FA but for sure this is not okay.“These young players are our future. If we handle them like horses we get horses.” Jordan Rossiter 1last_img read more

Jose Mourinho hails Sam Allardyce as perfect man for England and offers support


first_imgManchester United manager Jose Mourinho has backed the Football Association’s decision to hand Sam Allardyce the England job.Allardyce is set to leave Sunderland to succeed Roy Hodgson after a three-man FA panel containing chief executive Martin Glenn, technical director Dan Ashworth and vice-chairman David Gill concluded its interview process.Mourinho has locked horns with Allardyce in the past and accused him of “19th-century football tactics” two-and-a-half years ago after Chelsea were held to a goalless draw by West Ham.But the Portuguese insists he has a good relationship with the 61-year-old now and believes he is the right man to lead the Three Lions after their woeful Euro 2016 campaign.“I think he’s the right person for that, yes,” said Mourinho, when asked what he made of Allardyce’s appointment. “I think he is a good choice but I think he needs support and I think you can do better in respect to that because my experience in your country shows that me you, (the) football world, could do a bit better.“I think Sam never had the big chance at the highest level – lots of experiences in the Premier League but never that big one.“And now he has the big one, so I think he is more than ready. I think he is a good motivator, I think he can create a good team spirit with his player and I wish him the best.“From my side, not just as a friend but my side as Man United manager, the only thing I can promise is that I am going to try to support him the best way, prepare the players for him, try to have the English players always available in a good condition to help him.“I hope you can do the same because it’s your time. In Portugal we were waiting and waiting and finally we got it. I think it is time for you because ’66 (when England won their one and only major international trophy) was a long time ago, so good luck Big Sam.” 1 Jose Mourinho and Sam Allardyce last_img read more