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Catching Up with Fran Johnson (Class of 2011)

MACON, Ga. – The FPD Sports Information Office will be interviewing former Viking and Lady Viking athletes throughout the 2014 summer months as part of a “Catching Up With” series.

First up is Fran Johnson (class of 2011), who just completed her junior season at Valdosta State University playing for the Blazers.

Her squad advanced to the NCAA Division II Softball National Championship game, falling to West Texas A&M 3-2.

Johnson played a major role in pushing the Blazers throughout the national tournament, hitting a walk-off three-run home run against Wayne State on May 22.

The former Lady Viking was a member of FPD’s 2007 State Championship team and holds career records in batting average (.444), single season batting average (.590), single season home runs (7), career stolen bases (107), career hits (181), single season hits (49) and single season runs (36).

FPD Sports Information Director Chandler Lee conducted the interview, which can be read below.

 

CL: Hey Fran. Thanks for being with us today. First of all, tell us what it was like playing for a national title.

FJ: Well, I kind of got a little spoiled during my freshman year. Winning the National Championship is definitely going to be a highlight of my life. But to be able to go back my sophomore and my junior year doesn’t really happen a lot. But, we expect it because we set such high standards. There’s really no feeling like it. It was just incredible.

CL: To get to that National Championship game, you played a big role in the win over Wayne State, tying the game up and then hitting a walk-off three-run home run to win it. Tell us, first of all, what was going through your mind during that at-bat and then when you realized it was a home run.

FJ: Well, throughout the year I’ve been put at the plate in a lot of situations like that one. I’ve struck-out before and I’ve gotten a hit before. I’ve been in that situation, so honestly, I was not nervous. You can’t put pressure on yourself. You have to go in, know that you’ve put in the work, you’ve practiced for that (situation) and give it all you’ve got. That’s what we’ve played for the whole year – just to get people on in different situations. I was just going to go up there, do my best and whatever happened would happen. That last at-bat of that Wayne State game I was probably a little more nervous in the extra innings but that at-bat just felt really good. I knew (it was gone) off the bat. I got to first and our first base coach was jumping up and down. It was an awesome feeling.

CL: Speaking of awesome feelings, it must have been nice to had a chance to play with your sister, Morgan (class of 2009), in your younger years at Valdosta State and while at FPD.

FJ: Oh definitely so! This year was a little different because she wasn’t there. Most people don’t get that chance to play with their sibling. I’ve always said I didn’t go there for her, it’s just where I wanted to go and that’s where our family is. I’m really glad I got those two years with her. We lived together and got closer through that whole experience.

CL: What are some of the things that she taught you while she was an upperclassman?

FJ: She was just really my biggest supporter. I remember my first at-bat coming in to pinch hit she told me, “Don’t be nervous. It’s going to be okay.” I said, “Morgan, I’m fine.” It was really cool having her on our National Championship team. She actually got to come to this year’s national tournament in Virginia and getting to talk to her before our games was just awesome.

CL: Your time at FPD was also special. What did the coaches teach you about softball and life?

FJ: They taught me that you have to learn how to win and you have to learn how to lose. We won a state championship with Coach Jim Turner and Coach Bobby Jones and I think we had three runner-up finishes. But no matter what, they taught me to play with heart. It doesn’t matter what the score is, you keep playing and pushing. They all still call and text me. They keep up with our games. It’s really nice to have that kind of support system and knowing that they are going to be there no matter what. It’s really awesome that they are still in my life like that.

CL: What do you miss most about FPD?

FJ: FPD is small enough that it’s like a family. I miss seeing the coaching staff on a day-to-day basis. Sometime we will all catch up when we are back in town. I miss seeing my Macon and FPD family.

CL: You are a junior at Valdosta State and have one more year. Where do you see this team one year from now?

FJ: We are always going to set our standards high. We want to go back to that national tournament. This past year, nobody thought we were going to make it. We got there and knew that’s where we belonged. That was the ultimate goal and that’s where we wanted to end up. But, that’s the goal every year – to make it back. It’s going to be in Oklahoma next year and that’s where we want to be.

CL: What are your plans after your college career?

FJ: I am trying to go to PA school. I haven’t exactly decided where I want to go yet. I am looking at places in Georgia and Florida. I’ve still got to get all the shadow hours, get my GRE and apply. I know that I am going to end up where I’m supposed to end up.

CL: Fran, thanks so much for being with us. We are proud of you here at FPD and keep in touch.

FJ: Thank you!

 

The First Presbyterian Day School Department of Athletics strives to build the student athlete both in the playing arena and the classroom while upholding the school’s mission statement to educate and equip students to change the world for God’s glory. For more information, visit www.fpdvikings.com and sign up for up-to-the-minute news and scores by visiting www.twitter.com/FPDVikingSports.

Links:

NCAA DII National Championship Photo Gallery

Fran Johnson Bio on Valdosta State athletic website

Photo:

Fran Johnson Photo - GW HR

Johnson celebrates with teammate Caitlyn Calhoun after her game-winning home run against Wayne State in the NCAA DII National Tournament. (Photo from VSU Athletics)

(Thumbnail photo on main page from VSU Athletics)