Troy Johnston is all smiles and relaxed this summer. He’s just a Rogers High senior enjoying himself this time of year, working on his craft: baseball.
After the Rams outfielder put up yet another excellent year at the plate, Johnston is now looking forward to his final ride. He has one more year left before he heads off to Gonzaga University in the fall of 2016.
“My summer’s been good … just enjoying the weather and playing baseball,” he said last week at Diamond Sports Training Center in Sumner.
Baseball is easy to enjoy when you have a swing like Johnston has. The Rogers senior has put up some of the best numbers over the last three seasons in the Class 4A South Puget Sound League, where he finished toward the top in average each season.
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After 62 career games, Johnston has posted a .488 batting average with .561 on base percentage. The Rogers right fielder hit .500 in 2014 and .482 in 2013.
So what’s left for this Rogers stud?
“Probably hit over .700 or .800 (average) next year,” Johnston said with a laugh.
The kid knows how to swing it. But why can he hit to such a degree when he’s known as the major threat on a Rams team? Wouldn’t a team just pitch around him?
Well, the short answer is yes, and many did last year. Yet Johnston still found a way to hit ‘em where they ain’t.
“I try to look for a pitch over the middle and hit with authority,” Johnston said. “You have to make the game simple and clear your mind … visualize where you want the ball to go.”
Most kids who strap on a pair of batting gloves and pick up a baseball bat have dreamed about that moment where they’re there — right with the big names in The Show.
Johnston’s no different than those who dream. He just sees things differently than the average ballplayer.
“I want to take this as far as I can go,” he said. “I committed to Gonzaga after my sophomore year because I wanted to enjoy my time during high school. I felt it was the right choice — I still feel it is.”
“He’s always been someone who’s been able to see the bigger picture,” Johnston’s father, David, said. “He sees it and he has fun … you know, it’s like with the Wilson brothers (Troy and Ty) with wrestling, where I see them come in and enjoy being there to work.
“The best athletes know how to keep it enjoyable.”
Sports have been Johnston’s life — not just baseball but football and wrestling, too. In a day and age where athletes have begun narrowing their focus to just one sport, Johnston is taking the old school approach.
It’s that proverbial multi-sport athlete he views himself as. It’s something Johnston believes will make him better and stronger come spring.
“You always hear that coaches want us to play in multiple sports,” Johnston said. “I’ve always tried that, but injuries kind of made baseball my focus … the coaches at Gonzaga are encouraging that we do that here (in high school) while we can.”
And get stronger where he can.
“Strength and hitting for more power is something I want to add,” Johnston said. “You need to be able to hit for power at the next level.”
After all, it’s always been about future-casting — seeing how and what can make him stronger, more durable for the long haul. This isn’t a short journey Johnston’s taking.
He’s in it for the long haul.
“You know, I just want to enjoy my time next year,” Johnston concluded. “I want to get to the playoffs and enjoy the time I have with my team.”