Lady Lions Sign Lauren Johnson
Softball Team Recruits Local Talent
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Southwestern Assemblies of God University’s new women’s fast-pitch softball program is picking up momentum. Head Coach Tim Grant, armed with warmth, personality and vision, has secured the services of two local prep stars as building blocks.
A week after signing Kyla Burke, who figures to play at third base, SAGU inked Lauren Johnson to play first base. The corners of the infield are covered. They didn’t have to go far to land the pair, as Burke is from nearby Red Oak High School, while Johnson hails from Waxahachie H.S.
By signing a binding National Letter of Intent to play for SAGU, Johnson brings a level of confidence the young squad will need. More than that, Coach Grant has a player whose versatility allows him to make defensive adjustments.
Johnson is being directed to play at First Base, though her position of choice is in the outfield. She can also step in the circle and pitch when needed, the same as Burke.
“I pitch and can play first base, but the outfield is my main spot,” she said last week. “(However) anywhere he needs a player, I can be there.”
Johnson has enjoyed overcoming the doubts of observers over the years, and is known for never backing down from a good challenge. So wrote Alex Riley, a sportswriter for the Waxahachie Daily Light. In his assessment of Johnson, she is taking her game to the next level, where she belongs.
Where she fits in for the newly forming softball program across town from Waxahachie High will likely begin with her being fitted with a first baseman’s mitt. That could change once the team begins fall practice and the roster begins to take shape. Their inaugural season is set to begin in late January.
Playing for WHS head coach Steve Howell during her senior season for the Lady Indians, Johnson assembled an outstanding campaign at the plate. She swung a .351 stick and racked up 34 hits, which included six doubles and a three-bagger. She was driven in 18 times, while knocking in 10 with her bat. She added a pair of base thefts.
Johnson’s pitching resume was brief, tossing four innings, yielding a lone earned run while fanning four. It was good enough, however, for a 1-0 record.
Coach Grant has confidence in Johnson’s glove-work and wants to “…develop her bat. That’s what we’re really looking at her for,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting because we’ve got these (two) local talents and three more girls (set to sign) from the area. It’s really going to be great to have them all on-board!”
An experienced hand on the college athletic scene, Grant pointed out that Johnson could become the key signee of his initial five recruits. He expects several other county players to sign or transfer to Southwestern to be a part of the first season.
“It’s special,” Johnson added, “knowing that I’m making history for a school. When I (eventually) leave, I actually will be leaving something behind.”
Southwestern has continued its upward growth; in enrollment (2,100), with another record last year; in education, with majors swelling to well over 60; in influence, with students travelling on ministry teams internationally and stateside; and in athletics, adding a fourth sport for women, evening its overall total team menu to eight.
SAGU enjoys dual membership in both the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA, Division I) and the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA, Division I).
The Lions compete in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC), which is the second largest league in the country with 15 constituents, eight who fielded women’s softball teams this year. Six teams qualified for the Red River tournament.
SAGU has teams in the following sports; football, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and softball.
RRAC Women’s Softball 2011 Standings
|Northwood Univ (Cedar Hill, TX)||Knights||18-3||37-13||.740||--|
|Our Lady of the Lake (San Antonio, TX)||Saints||16-5||26-20||.565||2.0|
|Texas Wesleyan (Ft Worth, TX)||Rams||13-8||25-29||.463||5.0|
|Huston-Tillotson (Austin, TX)||Rams||10-11||15-26||.366||8.0|
|Univ of Southwest (Hobbs, NM)||Mustangs||10-11||15-27||.357||8.0|
|Langston University (Langston, OK)||Lions||9-12||10-21||.323||9.0|
|Bacone College (Muskogee, OK)||Warriors||7-14||10-33||.233||11.0|
|Texas College (Tyler, TX)||Steers||1-20||1-20||.048||17.0|
In the RRAC tournament final, Northwood defeated Texas Wesleyan. The Lady Knights were ranked #32 in the final NAIA Coaches Poll.
More information on softball can be accessed by clicking on the RRAC logo link on the SAGU Athletics home page.