Becca Johnson has always been a very good softball player. Who knew one small opinion would help turn her into a great player.
Through eighth grade, Johnson was always a right-handed hitter and solid position player. Taking the advice of her travel softball coach, Neil Swanchak, Johnson turned to the left side in the batter’s box, went away from her conventional swing, and became a slap hitter.
Making such a move would be tough enough in recreational play. Consider the Seymour star did this while transitioning to the high school level is something harder to fathom.
Fast forward four years and all the hours of hard work, Johnson has shown the move was definitely the right one.
Putting up video game numbers this past season, including hitting .721 with 62 hits and 54 runs scored, Johnson led her team to a CIAC Class M quarterfinal berth before the Wildcats were upset by fifth-seeded Granby. While the loss ended hopes of a third state title bid, it could not fully dampen the season and career put forth by the recently-graduated Johnson.
“We knew we had a tough ride,” Johnson said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game. We made some mistakes and beat ourselves. It was a bad time to have a bad game. But, you have to give them (Granby) credit. We lost to a good team.”
Johnson, named the Register’s Area Most Valuable Player, is headed to play softball at Colgate University, was more than just an offensive star this season, playing a flawless center field without an error all year.
“Defensively, she took a lot of doubles and hits away from hitters,” Seymour coach Ken Perieras said. “There were many occasions where she would leave her feet to take away hits. Her speed and jump on fly balls were outstanding.”
The memorable season for Johnson, which also included 39 stolen bases, was based on four years of hard work, to the point where the Seymour senior could look at a defense prior to going into the batter’s box and have the ability to place the ball in the empty spots on the field.
“I worked a lot on where to hit and how to angle the bat to put the ball where I wanted it to be,” Johnson said. “This year, I was able to do that. I was able to pick out a spot I wanted to hit to before I got into the box. To be able to hit that spot was really rewarding. It took a lot of hard work. It took three to three and a half years to figure out how to do that.”
Swanchak’s advice and Johnson’s hard work paid off as both were part of the final result which saw Johnson finish her career with a school record for hits (220), runs, and stolen bases.
“Becca was a part of two state championships and three league titles, and a major part of a four-year record of 90 wins and 10 losses,” Perieras said. “She is a player that set her goals high and was able to achieve most of them. She is a player who will go down as the Seymour player with the most career hits with 220, a mark that others will strive to reach.”
Johnson was also named the Gatorade State Player of the Year. She is also a three-time All-Area selection, a Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-State selection, a CHSCA Position Player of the Year, and an All-Naugatuck Valley League pick.
“Her ability to place the ball where she wanted was something she worked at over her four years at Seymour,” Perieras said. “She would get to the plate, look around to see how he defense was playing her, and then try to place it where they weren’t. She was very successful at it.”
Softball is not the only sport Johnson plays,. She actually is an advocate of playing multiple sports, stating how one sport in particular helped her become better in softball.
While Johnson played volleyball until the middle of her junior year when she started missing time because of softball commitments, she points to her time as a four-year member and three-time All-NVL selection participating in indoor track, which made her perform better on the softball field.
A strong competitor in the 4×200 and 4×400, Johnson was even better in the 200m, 55m dash, and long jump.
“I had an outstanding track coach (John Johnson) who helped me get faster and stronger,” Johnson said. “I ran awful my freshman year, and he helped fix that. He taught me to pick up my knees and it helped me to run faster, which helped steal more bases. I think it (track) really got me into lifting and running, which helped in softball.”
Johnson will study forensic psychology at Colgate in hopes of being a criminal profiler. While putting in the hard work in the classroom, there will also be plenty of time dedicated to softball at a school she fell in love with once she set foot on campus.
“I was recruited by Melissa Finley, but she left the program, and the coach now, Marissa Lamison-Myers, honored my commitment,” Johnson said. “They have all been so welcoming. It is a really good fit for me.”
For all of her accolades on the field, Johnson’s work is equally impressive off of it. She was a member of the National Honor Society, Link Crew, and Student Council, while also volunteering with the Seymour football team as its manager, and the Thank Dog Rescue.