East southpaw, Johnson, signs softball scholarship
April 23, 2012 at 4:23 a.m.
While Cat Osterman was rewriting softball record books up in Austin, a young girl made a promise to play collegiate softball, just like the Houston native did for the University of Texas.
That girl was Victoria East first baseman Jennie Johnson.
Last week, the 17-year-old fulfilled that dream.
Surrounded by a half-dozen family members, teammates and coaches, Johnson signed a National letter of intent to play for the University of Arkansas-Monticello.
Inside the school's library the southpaw took two claps and stated, "OK, we're done," which was the cue for those in attendance to shower her with applause.
She considered UT-Dallas, Austin College and Odessa Junior College. She ultimately chose Division II Arkansas-Monticello because of the Cotton Blossoms coaching staff, as well as the cozy, small-town atmosphere in the Southeast Arkansas community.
"It's a huge relief and a good feeling," Johnson said. "I knew for a while I was going to sign, but it doesn't hit you until you put your pen to paper."
East softball coach Jody Morgan has long praised Johnson for her versatility at the plate. Whether it's slapping the ball, hitting for power, placement or advancing runners, Morgan said her first baseman has been a huge part of the Titans success the past two years.
Jennie, who is hitting .497 this season, thanked her hitting coach, Christy Connors, for her approach in the box.
She added, Morgan taught her the mental approach to softball and emphasized exerting maximum effort in every practice and every game.
Johnson moved to Victoria from Port Lavaca when she was in fifth grade. At the time, Osterman returned from leading America to a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics and was in the middle of a junior season at Texas where she would pitch six no-hitters.
"When we moved to Victoria, we got a flyer for VGSA, and I took it to my mom and said I wanted to play," Johnson recalled. "Here we are."
Since that conversation, Jamie Slaughter has done everything she can to ensure her middle child could be successful in the sport.
For the last five years, Slaughter drove Jennie up to Katy three times a week so she could play for Katy Cruisers Gold.
Originally, those trips were made in a Ford Excursion. These days, the 120-mile commute is made in a Ford Focus.
"It makes you feel like everything you have done from the seventh grade on, with the travel ball, has paid off," said Johnson, whose smile during the ceremony and pictures was wider than her daughters. "She gets to do what she's wanted, so it's a good feeling."