Hard work pays off for Johnson, signs with Milligan University

Published 9:39 am Tuesday, February 6, 2024

By Ron Marvel

Star Correspondent

Mollie Johnson has decided to trade Cyclone orange and black for Buffalo orange and black, but it was not a color preference that led Johnson to stay in Carter County. Instead, it was the opportunity to play with her big sister Maggie, a senior utility player with the Lady Buffs.

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The recent ceremony took place at the Elizabethton High School Commons, with Athletic Director Forest Holt welcoming all those in attendance and acknowledging the arduous work that Johnson has put in, not only on the field but also in the classroom. Lady Cyclones’ Head Coach Kenny Hardin then spoke about the player Johnson is and the joy he had in watching her grow up. “I remember during Little League when she was little and we got pizza for the girls, and she took her pizza and sat on third base eating it. This young lady has put in a tremendous amount of work in everything she does,” Hardin shared. Coach Hardin also acknowledged the Johnson family, who has had a significant impact on girls’ softball in Carter County.

Johnson, with her sister sitting by her side wearing a Milligan sweatshirt and her mom and dad behind her, put ink to paper and made it official. After the signing, Coach Hardin continued to share what Mollie has meant to his program. “Mollie has meant everything to the program. She has a true love for the game, and has started every game since she came here. She is one of the top catchers in our area and is very coachable. Coach Holly and Milligan are getting a special player,” Hardin contributed.

In Johnson, the Lady Buffs will be getting what might be best described as the complete package. She is a two-time All-Conference and two-time All-County player. Johnson is consistent at the plate and has great speed when she gets on the base paths. Defensively, she is as good as it gets; she was the All-Defensive Player of the Year in her conference last year and touts a strong arm. Johnson is also a player who blocks and frames well and is a leader in both command and example. “The thing I love about catching is you are in control of the field; you are the leader of the team when we are in between the lines,” Johnson shared. Lady Buffs Head Coach Wes Holly acknowledged all that Mollie brings to the table. “She is very athletic and of high character, plus her high academics make her a great fit for Milligan,” Holly shared. Recent changes in college sports have placed a greater stress on high grades; Johnson’s 3.97 GPA will be a huge plus. In addition to being the epitome of a student-athlete, in her spare time, Mollie works with elementary-age girls on hitting and field drills in the hope of passing her love for the sport on.

Still, just the chance to play with her sister Maggie may have been the deciding factor. Maggie’s recent choice to take advantage of her fifth year, due to Covid, made it possible. “I have never had the opportunity to play with her besides a few travel ball tournaments, so we can get this one last year. Besides Maggie, the coaching staff at Milligan just made it a perfect fit,” Johnson shared.

With her signing in her rear-view mirror, Johnson can now focus on the season at hand. “We are a younger team, and we have some gaps, but we quickly will fill them in. I think we can go pretty far this year,” Johnson said. Mollie was quick to also talk about how special her time as a Cyclone was and what she would tell any 8th grader coming up. “Four years sounds like a long time ago, but it goes by so fast. When you first get here, you feel like you are going to be stuck here forever, but then you look up and here you are a senior. I will tell any kid coming in to take a breath, enjoy your time, and not say no to any positive challenges,” Johnson commented.