Prep softball: Johnson sends No. 3 Scott past top-ranked Hoover
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One wouldn't think that a simple third-inning foul-out near third base would matter much.
However, that very thing proved to perhaps be one of the biggest at-bats of the game between two of the top three teams in Class AA powers Herbert Hoover and Scott.
Even though Skyhawks standout Allyson Johnson was retired on the play, she did so after a long at-bat that saw the senior foul off numerous pitches en route to seeing 19 of them: basically everything that Hoover pitcher Allison Rager had to offer.
Johnson used it to her advantage in the top of the seventh, hitting a solo home run with two outs to give No. 3 Scott (19-7) the game-winning run in a 3-2 road victory over top-ranked Herbert Hoover (18-3) at Michael D. Chandler Field in Falling Rock.
Both teams believed the long at-bat earlier in the game by Johnson proved pivotal to her success in the seventh inning.
"Usually in a battle like she had, it goes into the batters favor," Scott Coach D.A. Harless said. "She battles all the time. She did not strike out at all last year. She didn't strike out until four games ago this year. You learn to expect that with her."
Johnson, a West Liberty signee, was ecstatic to give her team what proved to be the game-winner
"It was pretty big," Johnson said. "I swing with confidence, and hope for the best. "I think I pumped my team up and gave them the confidence that we had this game. I think that reassured them."
Hoover Coach Missy Smith said Rager had showed her hand in the previous match-up between pitcher and batter.
"Any time you see more pitches, it helps you as a batter and your team see in what all (a pitcher) is throwing," Smith said. "You can't substitute for pitch time, and (Johnson) hung in there."
Despite Johnson being Scott's top hitter and having a free base open with two outs in the seventh inning and nobody on, at no point did it cross Smith's mind to intentionally walk the Skyhawk star.
"It's not really part of our philosophy to walk hitters," Smith said. "I always believe in our pitchers. Sometimes they win, and sometimes you win. They are a good hitting team and you just never can rest when their batters are at the plate.
"She (Johnson) is probably one of the best hitters in the state, if not the best hitter. But she was 1-for-4, and we won three of the times. It was a big hit, though."
Harless was elated that the Huskies decided to pitch to Johnson.
"I wouldn't pitch to her but I'm glad they did," Harless said. "The thing is I have good hitters behind her. You have to be careful there. The thing with Allyson is every at bat is huge for us. She's an excellent all-around player.
Harless indicated that Johnson has been playing hurt recently, and was almost lost for the season. An injury she sustained in the team's trip to Myrtle Beach on spring break has hampered her lately.
"She has a broken ring finger on her right hand," Harless said. "She broke it when we was at the beach. She went to the doctor and they suggested pins, which told her she would be out six weeks. The doctor told us if she was tough enough, she could tape them together and play, and she is."
The solo home run in the seventh inning to Harless was the only earned run Rager gave up for Hoover. Scott's first two runs were unearned off two Husky errors in the first inning.
Caroline Thornburg and Zoey Carte had RBI for Hoover in the first and fourth innings to tie the game before Johnson's heroics won the game for the Skyhawks.
Contact sportswriter Christopher Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1735.