Featured Pilot of the Week: Chris Johnson

By The Beacon | April 20, 2011 9:00pm

(Scott Chia -- The Beacon)

By Joanna Goodwin, Staff Writer -- goodwin12@up.edu

A lot has changed since Portland's starting pitcher, sophomore Chris Johnson, played T-Ball

"I started playing baseball in second grade, which is even before the Little League division," Johnson said.

As he grew up in Edmonds, Wash., he received constant support from his parents.

"My parents didn't play baseball, but they played basketball and tennis, which I also did in high school," Johnson said. "They always promoted staying active and doing sports so I always knew I had their support."

Once Johnson was in high school, he started to look to playing in college at nearby universities, such as Seattle University and University of Portland.

"(Junior and teammate) Owen Jones is from my hometown and he helped get me interested in the school," Johnson said. "I also went to a prospect camp where coaches could watch us."

From there it was up to the coaches to decide if they wanted him.

"I got called saying that they had watched me play and so I visited in October and signed in November, the earliest date that athletes could commit to a school," Johnson said.

When Johnson signed to the team, he was immediately chosen as a pitcher.

"I am a lot better at pitching and because I am doing it a lot more now than in high school, I have gotten a lot better at throwing," Johnson said.

Senior pitcher Brent Miller, agrees that Johnson has what it takes to make a real impression on the university.

"He is really agreeable, competitive and powerful. With time, he can work on throwing harder," Miller said.

As a business major with an interest in finance, Johnson knows he has to focus on more than just baseball.

"The balance of schoolwork and sports was hard as a freshman. You have to get used to the workload, and you need to study a lot more than in high school," Johnson said. "It can be especially hard during traveling, but I think I have the balance figured out now."

In traveling to Hawaii over spring break the team experienced some of the repercussions of the Japan earthquake.

"Honolulu had a mandatory evacuation so we drove a half an hour to (sophomore) J.R. Bunda's house," Johnson said. "Our parents all stayed at his house for the night and the team slept on the floor of a church just 100 yards away from his house."

According to Johnson, experiences like this make the team closer than ever.

"We all get along and hang out off the field. The upperclassmen help the new teammates adjust to all of the new faces and new experiences," Johnson said.

Johnson has now thrown 12.0 scoreless innings at home, 10 strike outs and walked two on 10 hits. His earned run average (ERA) is at 3.16.

As conference play continues, Johnson and the team have simple goals.

"We really want to play well and play hard," Johnson said. "If we beat people, that will put us in the chance to win the conference."

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