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Johnson heads north, turns pro

AKRON, Ohio — Heidi Johnson’s historic softball career hit many milestones as a Troy Trojan and now she is taking her game to the next level.

The four-time all-conference Trojan has become the newest member of the Akron Racers in the Women’s Professional Fastpitch Softball league. She is the first Trojan in school history to make it to the professional softball ranks.

“I’m getting settled in here, and everything is going good,” Johnson said. “I’ve been getting to know the team and practicing every day. Pretty much I’m doing the role of a base runner for right now. I don’t have much practice under my belt yet.”

The former Trojan’s aspirations to play at the professional level have become reality.

“It’s pretty much a dream come true,” Johnson said. “Since there is not an Olympic league any more this is the top level you can reach, and I’m very excited to have this opportunity.”

She will take the field with former Olympians and long-time professionals. A look in the Racers’ dugout will provide a very familiar face for Trojan fans. The Racers’ head coach is former Trojan player and assistant coach Barbara Sherwood. Sherwood took the reins of the Racers earlier this year and she has known Johnson and her talent for quite some time now.

“The biggest thing is her speed,” Sherwood said. “We have a lot of power in our lineup, and she adds a lot of speed. Obviously she can help us out a lot in the outfield too. I recruited her out of high school when I was at Troy and watched her grow up. She’s gotten better and better and better through her career. I’m excited about having her here now, and I’m really excited about having a Trojan on the team.”

Trojans head coach Melanie Davis said she could not be more proud of what Johnson has accomplished.

“I think sending a kid to the professional ranks speaks very highly of your team and the caliber of the athletes on the team,” Davis said. “It shows a lot about their character and commitment to being the best player they can be. It is very big for our program, and we’re very excited for Heidi. She put in a lot of hard work in her four years at Troy and before she got to Troy. Heidi possesses a multitude of tools and a very strong work ethic and the coaches and managers there noticed all of those things they wanted to put her on their team.”

The Web site www.profastpitch.com/ allows fans to keep up with games via live stats and for more information on the Akron Racers check out www.akronracers.org/.