Female Area Athlete of Week: Johnson adds speed behind the plate for C-I

Crosby-Ironton senior earns area athlete of the week

Brooke Johnson
Brooke Johnson

Brooke Johnson knew she would have to make some adjustments this spring.

The Crosby-Ironton senior was moving up in the batting order and playing as the primary catcher for the Rangers.

Johnson hasn’t had any trouble to start the season as last week she went 7-for-8 with five RBIs and three runs scored in a doubleheader split with Detroit Lakes.

In Game One, Johnson went 4-5 with four RBIs, two runs scored, a double and a triple to help the Rangers get a 14-13 win.

She followed it up with a 3-for-3 game in Game Two which included one RBI and one run scored in the Rangers’ 9-6 loss.


“I had my timing down against those DL pitchers,” Johnson said. “The week before we played Staples and it was a little rough getting the pace going since it was our first game. Against DL, my timing was better and I was making better contact to get those hits. I was used to the speed that the DL pitchers were throwing.”

New Crosby-Ironton head coach Molly McDonald has liked how Johnson has taken on a leadership role with the team.

“She’s batting No. 2 and really proved herself well in the games against Detroit Lakes,” McDonald said. “I didn’t really know what to expect. We have six seniors and she has just been incredibly good with hitting, running the bases and is just a good leader while making good plays as a hitter and as a catcher. It’s been fun to see.”

Being a catcher makes being a leader come easily for Johnson.

“I’ve caught for a while, so I know my role and what to control,” Johnson said. “I was captain of the tennis team earlier this year, so I like having that leadership position. I don’t have an issue talking to my teammates. I love playing catcher because I know the ball is always coming to me.”

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McDonald added: “She’s fiercely competitive. Her personality is incredibly competitive and I think that’s what drives her as a catcher. She has a great relationship with our pitchers. They are all tight-knit and she’s taken that role well and her competitiveness helps.”

At the plate, McDonald said Johnson knows the strike zone well and is patient.

“When her pitch is there she doesn’t hesitate,” she said. “She’s making good contact, too, it’s not like she’s hitting it straight to the infield. She’s hitting spots in the field and doing a tremendous job of base running to watch for errors. If she gets a single and sees an error she’s booking it to second.”


Johnson’s baserunning ability is an added bonus, especially for a catcher. In a game earlier this season, McDonald asked if Johnson wanted a courtesy runner, but she declined as she wanted to run for herself.

“Catchers are pretty stereotyped as not being good runners, but she never wants a courtesy runner,” McDonald said. “I’ve asked her before and she’s told me that she wants to be in charge of her baserunning, which is cool to see. It’s also nerve-wrecking because if she were to get hurt on the bases what would I do? She’s aggressive and her speed is awesome to see for someone who is versatile in the field and as a baserunner.”

Johnson added: “Even when there are passed balls, I can get to those faster to get the throws in. As a baserunner, when coach asked in our last game if I wanted a courtesy runner I thought about it, but I wanted to run for myself. I trust my running and when I was younger on varsity I used to be a courtesy runner, so I like to control that myself.”

Watching Johnson in the batting cage in practice, McDonald could tell she was going to move up in the batting order.

“She batted around sixth last year,” McDonald said. “Watching her she was having good connections, but also as a two hitter, her speed is an asset. She is replacing Bri Miller who led us in steals, so the combination of hitting and baserunning has given her a lot of confidence being the No. 2 hitter.”

McDonald added it’s been fun to watch Johnson grow as a player.

“She is a great communicator,” she said. “She has taken on a big leadership role. Last year, she was really quiet, but this year has come out of her shell and can tell the team where cut-offs should go and where balls should be placed. She really knows the game that’s been cool to see. When I ask about a situation or what’s going on, she knows what’s going on.”

Other notable performances:
Softball: Ailie Kullhem, Aitkin, finished with a triple, four RBIs and two runs against Pine City.
Emma Skaj, Aitkin, finished 2-3 with three RBIs against Pine City.
Frankie Seelen, Pierz, struck out 10 against Staples-Motley.
Jada Dykhoff, Wadena-Deer Creek, 4-5 with three RBIs and three runs scored.
Track and Field: Calia Chaney, Pequot Lakes, won the 800 run in Brainerd.
Jessa Kimman, Pillager, won the 300 hurdles in Park Rapids.


Brooke Johnson

Year: Senior
School: Crosby-Ironton
Sport: Softball
Position: Catcher
Highlights: She finished 7-8 with 5 RBIs and three runs scored in a doubleheader against Detroit Lakes.

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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