Amy Johnson covers all the bases |

Amy Johnson covers all the bases

Steve Yingling, Tribune Sports Editor

As much as Amy Johnson wanted to make her final season memorable at Belmont University, a developing future beyond collegiate sports isn’t giving her time dwell on what could have been.

The Belmont senior is employed by a private consulting company in Nashville, Tenn., that works with autistic children. Johnson, a 1998 graduate of South Tahoe High, will be hired by the firm when she graduates next spring.

“It’s a great job,” Johnson said. “It definitely tests my patience, and at the same time it’s made my patience grow.”

That quality served Johnson substantially during the latter part of her Belmont softball career as she good-naturedly waited for playing time and three broken fingers to mend.

“It was really tough to sit and watch the team go through the struggles we had to go through this season,” said Johnson, whose Bruins finished with a 14-40 record. “To be able to come back for my last doubleheader, it kind of made up for it. I got to end on a good note.

“It taught me patience, perseverance. Being part of any team, no matter what level you’re at, you can always get something out of a team experience.”

In her final game in a Bruin uniform on April 30, the second baseman collected two hits, three put outs and two assists in Belmont’s 2-1 win against Tennessee State.

“Things maybe didn’t work out exactly the way she wanted, but when she stepped in the game, she performed,” said Belmont coach Tanya Spishak. “A lot of times seniors get caught up in their last game and play one of the worst games of their career, but she hit the ball hard, made the defensive plays and enjoyed being out there for the last time.”

Spishak took over as Belmont’s softball coach during Johnson’s junior season, but in the short time the new coach quickly learned to respect her infielder’s attitude.

“By the end of the second year I almost wished there were a couple more like her,” Spishak said. “She understand what it took to make the whole team and how to act. She had such a good grasp on the big picture.”

Johnson played in eight games, including a two-RBI performance, before a bad-hop grounder broke a finger on her throwing hand during practice.

She missed eight weeks, and doctors strongly urged her not to play during the final weekend of the season.

“I really pressed them to let me play,” said Johnson, who finished the season with a .200 batting average, 27.3 percent on-base totals and a .909 fielding average.

Her best season came in 2000 when she hit .240 and played errorless ball in the outfield and second and first bases.

While Johnson oft-injured fingers kept her off the field too often, Johnson is glad she had the experience of playing major college softball.

“Probably the greatest thing is I got to see great softball,” she said. “I played against some really amazing teams and players.”

To complete her education degree, Johnson will spend her final two semesters student teaching — one monitored by a professor and the other giving her total control. But Johnson hopes she’ll have some free time to give Spishak a hand next year, mentoring the team’s young players.

“I really like Tanya,” Johnson said. “We probably had the most talent since I’ve been here, but we never seemed to put it together. I wish we could have given her a better season, because she was new here and gave it everything she could.”

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