Johnson expected to play key role at Union


John Henson

Harlan County’s Hannah Johnson signed recently to continue her softball career at Union College. Pictured with Johnson are her parents, Everett and Lori Johnson; her siblings, Reagan and Shawn; HCHS assistant principals Eddie Creech and Mike Hensley and HCHS coach Tim McElyea.

John Henson, Managing Editor

After missing a senior season that promised to be historic, Harlan County third baseman Hannah Johnson was able to put aside the disappointment and look to the future. Johnson decided earlier this week to continue her softball career next season at Union College after considering several schools over the past two years.
“When I visited it felt really close and personal, almost like a family environment,” Johnson said. “I really liked the coaches’ personalities and their coaching style. The coach showed a lot of interest and faith in me. Stating all this, I felt like Union was a perfect match for me to pursue my dreams of playing college ball and to continue my educational experience.”
“I’m extremely excited about the freshman class Hannah is a part off,” said Union coach Alyssa Morris. “She is a great student in and out of the classroom. I see Hannah playing a big role in our offense and can’t wait to see what she does as a Bulldog. “
A starter since she was a seventh grader, Johnson developed into the most prolific hitter in Harlan County High School history. She started three years at second base, then moved to third base as a sophomore to replace the graduated Farren Clark, who also went to Union. Johnson was one of the state’s best hitters as a junior, with a .634 average that included three homers, 53 RBI and 52 hits while striking out only once all year for an on-base percentage of .694
“What can you say about her season with one strikeout in 95 at bats for someone with power. She had an amazing year,” said Harlan County coach Tim McElyea, who called Johnson one of the best in school history. “She hit for average and had power to all fields. She is one of the best that has ever been through here. She just didn’t swing at bad pitches.”
Johnson is looking forward to the challenge of playing at the next level.
“I want to go in with a positive attitude and be the best teammate I can be, but I also want to compete every day and eventually become a starter,” she said. “I know college is a lot different than high school and I want to be the hardest worker on the field at all times. My main goal at Union is to break records just like I did at the high school. I want to be best softball player out of Harlan County.”
“She can definitely help them at the plate,” McElyea said. “I could see her at designated hitter or first base or as a pinch hitter whenever they needed someone. I know they are excited about her hitting ability.”
After advancing to last year’s 13th Region Tournament semifinals, the Lady Bears expected to make a run at their first regional title this year and were favored for their fifth straight district title. That was before the coronavirus pandemic led to all spring sports being canceled.
“Losing my senior year was definitely unexpected. Just knowing the talent we had and I definitely think we were going to win regionals,” Johnson said. “I would say at practice ‘Why not us’ to my team. Because this was our time. No one takes us as a threat in the region, but we were determined to prove people wrong just like we did last year. I definitely wanted to come out there and break more records in hitting this year after my junior year. I would really like to thank coach Mac considering he watched me grow up since I was on the team since seventh grade. He believed in me and helped me become the player I am today. He has been the best coach I have had.”


Hannah Johnson connected on a pitch in action last season. Johnson will continue her softball career at Union College. (Chris Jones)