Ryan and Reese Johnson are twins at Nicholas County High School. Ryan plays for the baseball team, and Reese for the softball team.
On Monday night, the brother/sister duo started on the mound and in the circle for Nicholas County in the first round of the 38th District tournaments. Both had incredible performances to send their teams to the district championships on Wednesday and qualify for the region tournaments next week.
Ryan Johnson pitched against Pendleton County in the first round of the baseball district tournament in Cynthiana. Ryan pitched a complete game and struck out 18 of the 28 batters he faced. He gave up only 3 hits and 1 run.
For the season, Ryan has started 11 games and thrown 37.2 innings. He is also second in the region in strikeouts with 87. As a hitter, Ryan leads the team with a .418 batting average which is top ten in the region. He has 28 hits and 29 walks.
After taking the supplemental school year in 2021, Ryan is technically a junior. He decided to graduate “early” this spring, though. Ryan committed to Western Kentucky University in the fall. However, he will be attending the P27 Baseball Academy in South Carolina next season for one year before transferring to WKU.
P27 is a private academy where players train for 3-6 hours daily while taking college classes. They compete against other academies in the southeast. He will be both a position player and a pitcher.
“I decided to go there because they have some of the top coaches, facilities, and competition in the nation. Their goal is to improve your game, and I want to be the best possible player I can be before I go to WKU. I’m looking to make an impact from day one at Western.”
Onto the softball field.
Reese Johnson started in the circle for the Lady Jackets against heavy favorite Pendleton County. But, it was her day at the plate that helped give her team the upset win.
She leads the team in hits with 33 on the season at a .434 batting average. She was also the starting pitcher in 22 games this year, throwing over 100 innings.
Coming into the game, Pendleton County’s pitching staff was giving up just over 2 runs per game across 7 innings, and had run-ruled Nicholas twice with a combined score of 25-0.
Nicholas County was down 6-5 after six innings of play. But, the Lady Jackets scored two runs in the top of the 7th and shut out Pendleton County in the final frame to seal the win. Nicholas managed to gather 12 hits and 7 runs. Pendelton had only given up 7 or more runs four times all season.
Reese threw a complete game, giving up 9 hits and 6 runs (5 earned) with 2 walks and 4 strikeouts. At the plate, she went 3-4 against one of the best pitching staffs in the region.
With both Ryan and Reese being competitors on the field, there was no real sibling rivalry between them, said Ryan. “We don’t look at who’s doing better or worse and just focus on bringing each other up.”
Reese said, “we never compare our performances to each other. From a young age, (Ryan) has been dedicated like very few are. It was very fun growing up playing sports together. We started out playing in our local tee-ball league and continued up until 10U. Our sports have always been intertwined, and we have loved cheering each other on.”
Since Ryan and Reese are the same age and play baseball and softball throughout the spring and summer, their parents often have to split up parenting duties. However, they do what they have to do to make it work.
Their father and head Nicholas County softball coach Mike Johnson, said, “When they were born, we knew that it would be hard if they were both athletes. Since I’m the varsity softball coach, I’ve been able to be with Reese, and my wife, Aimee, goes to support Ryan. In the summer, I go with Ryan for travel baseball, and Aimee spends the summer with Reese. It’s been hectic and tough on us at times, but we wouldn’t change a thing.”
Reese had the same feelings. “Since high school softball and baseball is such a short season, we’ve had many conflicting dates. On those dates, my mom goes with my brother, and I go with my dad, so we both have someone to support us. It’s been a struggle at times, but I don’t think we would change a single thing,” she said.
The softball and baseball teams in Kentucky can play up to 36 regular season games in just two months. Unfortunately, baseball and softball district tournaments are typically scheduled to be played on the same day at the same time and at different sites.
After the Nicholas County softball team defeated Pendleton County in Falmouth, the Johnson family had no time to celebrate. They drove down 27 to Cynthiana while following along with Ryan’s baseball game on GameChanger before arriving in the 4th inning.
Coach Mike Johnson told this story about last year’s district tournaments, saying, “I was coaching a softball game last year, and our softball crowd went nuts in between pitches. I had no idea what they were so happy about. Between innings, I found out that Ryan had hit a grand slam in the bottom of the 7th to tie Harrison County in the district tournament.”
Nicholas County would go on to win that game 8-7 in 9 innings.
“It truly takes a village, and we have a great village in Carlisle. Thankfully, everyone knows us in our small town, so we can always count on other parents in the crowd to keep us up to date with the other one’s game,” said Mike.
Ryan has a 4.2 GPA and plans to major in business. Reese plans to attend Eastern Kentucky University and major in business management. She has a 4.4 GPA and was a governor’s scholar this past summer.
Ryan said, “My parents have been more than amazing, my father works two jobs, and my mother works a full-time job in the school to be closer to me and Reese. Every night they come home from work and head to the baseball or softball field, which is very hard for them. They have always been there for me and Reese and pushed us to succeed, not only in sports but in life. It was always my dream to play at the D1 level, and without my parents pushing me, supporting me, and guiding me, I would not be where I am today. I can’t put into words how grateful I am to have such great parents.”
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