Beecher’s Taylor Johnson packs wallop at plate

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Beecher’s Taylor Johnson really knows how to break up a party.

The Bobcats freshman didn’t have to think too long to come up with one of the first memorable moments she had as a softball player.

It came during a youth league contest when she struck a ball that left the field and soared into a picnic area.

“There was a tent there and it hit the tent and then went into the picnic. The girls there were screaming and I was just like, ‘Oh, God,’ ” a smiling Johnson said. “I felt so bad because it was just a disaster over there.”

Now it’s pitchers who want to scream when Johnson swings her bat.

The 15-year-old first baseman, who already is verbally committed to Loyola, is crushing the ball at an incredible rate. She’s the runaway Southland leader in home runs with 13, two of which she hit in a 10-0 victory Monday over Oak Forest. She is 48-for-78 (.615), with 55 RBI and 39 runs.

She has been a surprise to many opposing coaches, but not to Beecher coach Kevin Hayhurst.

“She’s been doing this all along,” he said. “She’s been very consistent from Day 1, just possesses a lot of power and has a lot of knowledge in how to hit.

“I saw her come up from junior high, so I knew the skills that she possesses.”

Johnson also was a varsity starter as a freshman on Beecher’s basketball team. Once upon a time, she was an avid tennis player.

“My dad was a tennis coach and he thought I could go big with the tennis,” she said. “But when I moved here (from Crestwood to Beecher) softball was the sport that everyone wanted to play. And I instantly fell in love with softball.”

Johnson said her hitting style was developed during her second year of travel ball by two of her coaches, Ron Green and Dan Junker.

“They were probably the only ones who made my swing and my hitting good that year and in the years to come,” she said.

Johnson said she swings for singles and extra-base gappers, but the homers have come in droves.

May 4thagainst New Trier, her three-run blast in the sixth inning lifted the Bobcats to a 3-2 win.

Against Oak Forest, she hittwo-run homers in the first and third innings before being pitched away from in her third at-bat.

“She really understands what to look for when the pitch is coming,” Hayhurst said. “She’s got a zone she’s looking for. She’s physically strong, and her bat speed puts everything to work. It’s fun to watch and coach.”

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