The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

May 24, 2013

MSU sophomore is quite a catch

Sophomore has proven to be quite a catch

CARY, N.C. — The secret to Minnesota State’s impressive run to a second straight Division II College World Series isn’t really a secret at all.

It’s pitching. Lots of pitching.

The Mavericks have allowed only seven runs in their eight postseason games so far in sweeping to the NSIC and NCAA regional championships without a loss.

As with most top teams, MSU’s staff features a deep, diverse collection of arms that constantly challenges each other to excel. But there’s also one talented anchor that sets the group apart.

And it’s not Jason Hoppe, who hasn’t allowed a run since April 7, Harvey Martin, the Daktronics Central Region pitcher of the Year, or even reliable closer Mahlon Zimmerman.

It’s catcher Nolan Johnson.

“All of us pitchers owe a lot of our success to him,” said Hoppe, who will draw the starting assignment today when the Mavericks begin their quest for a national championship against Grand Valley State at the USA Baseball Training Complex. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.

“He calls a great game back there,” Hoppe said of Johnson. “He’s recognizing what the hitters are doing and giving us what we want to throw.

"The connection you have with your catcher is so huge. When he puts down a changeup on 3-2 and that’s what you want to throw, it gives you confidence that he has confidence in your ability to make the pitch.”

Although Johnson’s skill as a receiver might sometimes get overlooked because of the gaudy stats his pitchers have been piling up, his defensive prowess has hardly gone unnoticed. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound sophomore has thrown out 16 of the 30 runners that have attempted to steal on him this season to earn a spot on the NSIC Gold Glove Team for the second straight year.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
Outdoors

Latest auto racing news
Featured Ads
Live Moondogs coverage
Shane Frederick's Twitter updates
Chad Courrier's Sports Report
Latest NCAA basketball news
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
NDN Video
Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Byron Scott Reportedly New Head Coach Of Los Angeles Lakers - @TheBuzzeronFox SportsNite: Botched play Gruden: Full-speed practices key for fundamentals Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France College Football Playoff Prognosis: Notre Dame Fighting Irish College Football Playoff Prognosis: Nebraska Cornhuskers Jake Peavy traded from Red Sox to Giants Browns wants Johnny Football to buckle down How Losing Joe Bergeron Affects Texas What will Pierzynski bring to St. Louis? Cristiano Ronaldo -- TEAMING UP WITH LIL WAYNE ... Rapper Starting Sports Management Biz McNabb: Two games is not acceptable for me Ortiz, Price Feud Is Upsetting To Children - @TheBuzzeronFOX MLB Trade Deadline Talk: Price, Stanton, Kemp Tony Romo will be a full-go for camp Teammate's Advice For Johnny Manziel & Josh Gordon - @TheBuzzeronFox Helfrich praises Mariota's commitment to improve World Cup Hero Mario Gotze -- HALF-NAKED MUD BATH ... With Hot Model GF RG3 answers critics, grateful for coaches' support