The FPD baseball team is off to an amazing start this season, thanks to the leadership of seven seniors, including one that protects home plate.
Coach Jimmy Turner explains, “Tanner Johnston in the last week was 4-7 for us. His on-base percentage is over .700 and has scored six runs. One of those games was a region game for us and it has been a pivotal part of our success.”
Two years ago, Johnston made a transition from fielding balls to calling strikes, an unselfish move that has made the Vikings better over time.
“It was tough,” says Johnston. “The hardest part was learning how to block because I was a shortstop and I was taught to pick the ball up and stay in front of it, but when you have to drop to your knees and sacrifice your body like you do, it’s a tough transition.”
“Great, great kid, very hard working,” echoes Turner. “He’s determined. If he were to become a Navy Seal, he would be the first one in on the attack, because he’s a real leader for us. He’s our catcher and provides a lot of leadership for us.”
Since opening day this year, the Vikings are now 8-0 with help from Johnston’s play at the plate and behind it, but he won’t take the credit alone.
Johnston credits, “Probably my dad for just hitting with me a bunch and Coach Jones for throwing BP and helping me see better and swing better. It’s all coming together at the same time. We have a really old team, with seven seniors, I think, and we’re all good friends and are playing well together like a good team should. We’re playing for the guy beside us and not ourselves, so it’s going to be a good season.”
Outside of the diamond, the senior makes good on his grades and realizes that his GPA (grade point average) is more important than his OBP (on-base percentage).
“You have to take school seriously if you want to get into Georgia or Georgia Tech,” replies Johnston. “Because I don’t have the best grades now because I didn’t study when I was younger. I realize now that you have to care.”
So as the season wears on, Johnston has one goal in mind.
“Go all the way. Nobody is going to stop us.”
And the Vikings don’t mind getting it done dirty along with the way.
Johnston is pretty hard on himself. He actually has a 3.2 GPA, and the Vikings look for the win number 9 against region mate Lincoln County on the road.