We aren’t Lyon: Kamiak girl gets passport to pitch in France

Herald staff

MUKILTEO – When Kelli Johnson’s father handed her a passport, the Kamiak senior pitcher thought her father had gone nuts.

“I told him, we go to Canada once in a while, but that’s about it,” said Johnson, who is one of only two high school players to be selected to play on a USA Softball junior national team next January in France. “When he told me I was going to France, I couldn’t believe it.”

Team USA will play in The World Cup Jan. 9-17 at an indoor softball complex in Lyon, France. Johnson, a left-hander, was noticed by USA Softball officials at the National Softball Association World Series in Columbus, Ohio this summer when she led her team, the Northwest Classics, to a 25th place finish out of 180 teams.

Johnson was 4-1 in that tournament, and also had a 0.56 earned run average and averaged 15 strikeouts per game in leading the Classics to a second-place finish in the Junior Olympic Tournament in Orlando last July.

Johnson said she was “shocked” when she learned she had been selected.

“I didn’t think I pitched as well as I could have (in Columbus),” Johnson said. “I didn’t even have all of my pitches.”

Johnson said playing in the World Cup is a step toward her dream.

“My ultimate dream is to play in the Olympics,” Johnson said. “This is really exciting.”

  • Panther power: The Snohomish boys and girls cross country teams continue to dominate every invitational meet they enter. Two weeks ago at the New Balance meet in Oregon, the Panthers won both varsity and junior varsity competitions. They did it again Saturday in the Bellevue Invite at Lake Sammamish. Panther runners Jimmie Poier, Mary Malgesini, Garrett McCulloch, Aimee Spada and Jennifer Moreno all won individual races, while A.J. White was fifth in the boys elite race and Jessica Culnane was sixth in the girls elite race.

  • Bilingual Barry Sanders: It took Masaki Matsamoto of King’s less than three quarters to dance his way to 321 yards and four touchdowns in the Knights’ 40-0 victory over South Whidbey Friday night. Matsamoto, a senior who is originally from Japan and now lives in Shoreline, needed only 20 carries to establish the school record.

    “The closest comparison I can think of is Barry Sanders,” King’s coach Jim Shapiro said. “When he gets past the line of scrimmage, he just has vision that is God-given. He just flat-out jukes.”

    Shapiro said Matsamoto, who gained 600 yards as a backup last season, wanted to atone for his three fumbles a week earlier. After pulling the 5-foot-10, 195-pound running back early in the third quarter, Shapiro realized that Matsamoto had 275 yards, and elected to give the team captain a shot a 300. Two carries later he had 296 yards.

    “We told him to get the four yards and go down,” Shapiro said. “And he actually took it about another 30.”

  • Reverse layup: Jerry Koester, who had stepped down as head coach of the Cascade basketball program, has changed his mind. He is expected to be officially rehired sometime this week. Cascade was 18-7 last season, and the Bruins went to the state playoffs in 1999.

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