Yorktown softball coach Chrissie Saunders faced a dilemma before the season. Her team lacked a prototypical leadoff hitter. Needing someone to fill the role, she turned to sophomore Katy Johnson, a hitter she feels is more natural in the No. 3 position, where she hit in 2012.
Yet the arrangement has worked. Johnson is batting .344 with a .408 on-base percentage serving as her team’s primary leadoff hitter.
Yorktown won the Class 3A Blackford Sectional, and will host Eastbrook at 7 p.m. today in a regional game. Wapahani will play Eastern (Greentown) in a Class 2A regional game at 5:30 p.m. today at Wapahani, and Randolph Southern will host Cowan at 6 p.m. today in a Class A regional game.
Johnson, who has also connected for four home runs and 17 total extra-base hits, has posted similar stats to her numbers last year as a freshman. Yet Saunders thinks she’s seen improvement in Johnson’s patience at the plate, and sees Johnson making better contact in her unsuccessful at-bats.
“She’s the kind of girl that is just going to do whatever we ask her to do,” Saunders said. “And she will always give it 100 percent. Whatever it is that you ask her to do, she is going to just go with that no questions asked and give you every ounce of energy that you need put into it. I mean that kid is as coachable as any kid.”
With Johnson now out of the No. 3 position, Grace Lumpkin has spent considerable time there. Lumpkin is batting .400 with 18 RBIs in that position.
Johnson said she was initially skeptical about the move to leadoff, but has grown to like batting there. She enjoys the opportunity to score runs, and knows it guarantees her as many at-bats as teammates, if not more. She leads her team in at-bats this season, and is second on the team with 29 runs scored.
“I just like getting on base and having them hit me in,” she said. “I don’t know, I like running the bases. So it gives them more RBIs, and me a chance to get on base for them.”
Johnson and her teammates, who are 22-4 and tied for sixth in the final Class 3A poll, are preparing for unranked Eastbrook (22-3.) The Panthers are led by Nicole Lawvere, who serves as her team’s primary pitcher and is also the Panthers’ top hitter.
“She’s kind of an all-around threat,” Saunders said. “…We want to make sure that we’re aware of things like that. Higher-quality pitching would be something that we are trying to prepare for.”