Johnson signs with Southwest Minnesota State
BY ANDY KRUTSINGER
Mt. Pleasant News
Signing day has finally come for Mt. Pleasant’s Bailey Johnson.
The star third baseman/pitcher for the Panther softball team officially signed her letter of intent do attend and play for Southwestern Minnesota State University (NCAA Division II) on Wednesday in the Mt. Pleasant High School library.
“I started out last year just kind of looking around,” said Johnson about her decision. “I created my NCSA (National Collegiate Scouting Association) recruiting profile, and if I would have never had that, I would have never found my dream school.”
Johnson, who is a multi-year starter for the Panther softball team says her visit to the Mustangs’ campus in Marshall, Minn., helped her with the decision to sign.
“I just kind of reached out to them and let them know who I am and what I can do,” she says. “I scheduled a visit and I got there and I fell in love with it the first day.”
Johnson says her first position at the college will be third base, but she may also be doing some pitching if they need it or hit in the designated hitter spot.
SMSU is coming off of a 19-33 season last year overall and a 12-18 campaign in the conference.
Johnson will bring a lot of power to the Mustangs, which she used to help her become one of the best softball players in the state of Iowa last year.
After being a key player during Mt. Pleasant’s 2015 state tournament run her sophomore year, Johnson exploded as a junior for 15 homeruns and a Class 4A-leading 69 RBIs.
Johnson was also a leader on the mound for the Panthers in 2015, especially with co-ace Cali Liechty battling injury.
She finished the year with a 16-2 record and a 2.45 ERA on the mound, and finished the year with 97 strikeouts.
The first-team All-State selection attributed part of her success to her coach, Troy Mears.
“Coach Mears has been a great impact on my softball career,” she said. “I don’t know what I would ever do without him coming into our softball program. He just built it better every year.”
Mears says he’s proud of his senior star, saying Johnson has always been “wise beyond her years” as a player.
“Two years ago as a sophomore she really just blossomed, and then finally I think she got the confidence in herself a little more,” he said. “She found that and put it altogether. She’s always had the power, the drive and the grit.”
Johnson, and the rest of the Mt. Pleasant softball team, will be back on the diamond in late May for their 2017 campaign, where they will try to get back to Ft. Dodge after falling one game short in 2016.