Johnson springboards ISU softball to 4-0 start


Miranda Cantrell/Iowa State Daily

Freshman Katie Johnson winds up to pitch during the Cyclones game against South Dakota State at the Bergstrom Football Complex on Feb. 9. The Cyclones beat the Jackrabbits 4-1.

Ben Paulus

The transition from high school to college isn’t always a seamless process for a softball pitcher, but ISU freshman Katie Johnson has been trying to take it all in stride.

“The biggest difference has to be the level of hitters and the speed of the game,” Johnson said. “In high school, you could slide by with a lot of things, but in college you always have to bring your ‘A’ game.”

At the Cyclone Invitational, that’s precisely what she did. Johnson started all four games for Iowa State and helped lead the Cyclones to a perfect 4-0 start to the season.

Johnson held Indiana State and South Dakota State to a combined five earned runs and 28 strikeouts through 28 innings of work, going 4-0 in her first four starts.

“It felt really good to get the wins, it was nice to get out here with my teammates,” Johnson said. “They were really there for me today.”

The four complete games for Johnson in only two days displayed the level of confidence the Cyclones have in the freshman. In all four games, Johnson’s pitch count totaled more than 100 pitches, a real testament to her durability.

“To throw back-to-back games is one thing, and Katie is definitely capable,” said ISU coach Stacy Gemeinhardt-Cesler. “But it’s a whole other thing for you to do it for your first time out.”

Johnson’s start to the season has shown a level of composure and competitiveness that most freshmen don’t necessarily start off with.

“She did really well, you couldn’t tell that she was a freshman or that it was her first time out there,” said ISU pitcher Paris Imholz. “She was so calm, so cool.”

Johnson found herself in a couple of situations with multiple runners on base, but was still able to work out of those situations.

Through the weekend, she stranded a total of 24 opposing runners on base. None more important than the three she stranded in the top of the 7th inning against Indiana State on Sunday.

Johnson left the bases loaded when she forced Indiana State to pop it up for the final out. The Cyclones beat Indiana State 4-2 to improve to 4-0 on the season.

“She took control on the mound, even in the tight situations,” Imholz said. “I thought she did a really good job leading the team, and we all fell into place behind her.”

The Cyclones are off to a perfect start to the season, and have every reason to be excited about the rest of their season and their young pitcher’s potential.

“The things that she needs to do and where she’s at as a pitcher now, she’s just tweaking things,” Gemeinhardt-Cesler said. “She’s only going to continue to get better.”