Best season for Johnson’s Lady Cobras

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, June 16, 2013

WESSON — Jackie Johnson inherited a challenge when she was hired to coach softball at Wesson four years ago. She approached her first coaching job with vigor and enthusiasm.

In 2013, Johnson’s Lady Cobras realized their most successful season, winning the Region 6-2A title and advancing to the South State Championship series against Enterprise-Clarke. Wesson finished with a 21-8 record, led by five senior starters.

That performance has earned Johnson The Daily Leader’s All-Area Fastpitch Softball Coach of the Year honors. She considers the recognition a tribute to her players and the community.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We had a lot of unselfish kids who wanted to win,” said Johnson. “It didn’t matter who the star was; just as long as we won. Different kids stepped up and contributed during the season.”

Johnson said there was plenty of balance in her lineup. “One through nine, each player had a big year.”

She complimented her assistant coaches, Michelle Nunnery and volunteer Dale Lowery. “Both of my assistant coaches do a really good job. They put in a lot of hours and do a lot of things for our program.”

She said the community had been very supportive, helping raise funds and assist with construction of the new softball facility that was completed last year. “We have a lot of outside support from business people. Our administration encourages us and our booster club works hard to support us.”

Johnson said she will miss her talented group of seniors who provided leadership, too. They include pitcher Abbey Smith, catcher Macie McQuage, first baseman Taylor Smith, centerfielder Ashton Newman and leftfielder Hanna Brown.

Returning for another run at a region title are third baseman Sarah Robinson, second baseman Bailey Middleton, shortstop Kayla Britt and rightfielder Hailey Chassion.

Wesson has been promoted to Class 3A for the next two years, under the latest reclassification process by the Mississippi High School Activities Association.

Johnson, 27, is a graduate of Copiah Academy, Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Delta State University. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in math and a master’s in health and physical education.

An exceptional athlete, Johnson played basketball left-handed and softball right-handed. She played for Coach Allen Kent at Co-Lin, working at second base and pitcher. She was a member of the 2006 Co-Lin team that won the state tournament and placed third in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament held in Normal, Ill.

She played for Coach David Kuhn at Delta State, working at second and third base for the Lady Statesmen.

McQuage, one of Johnson’s seniors, complimented her coach. “It was good to play for a coach with a softball background. She had the knowledge to make us a better player.”

Abbey Smith agreed. “It was a good experience playing for Coach Johnson. She pushed us.”

Johnson said summer softball activity keeps her girls busy. “We have a strong Little League that provides us with players, too.”

She is married to Nick Johnson, a physical therapist in Hazlehurst and Crystal Springs.