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.”
“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.”
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