“I wanted to go out with a bang,” Alexus Johnson said.
And, wow, did she ever.
Johnson hit a two-run homer and a three-run double – all in the fourth inning – to help power Riverside Academy past John Paul II 12-0 in five innings in the opening round of the Division III softball playoffs Monday afternoon in Reserve.
The victory advances the fourth-seeded Lady Rebels (18-8) to the second round against the winner of the game between No 5 seed Catholic High of New Iberia and No. 12 Dunham. Riverside will host the game later this week at a date and time yet to be determined.
While the Lady Rebels will advance, Johnson won’t be joining them. She is scheduled to have surgery Wednesday on a sore shoulder, thus the sense of urgency on Monday.
Johnson suffered the injury during the 2018 season while pitching for Riverside. She was shut down for awhile and allowed to return as a hitter and limited in practice.
She worked with the team throughout the summer. When the 2019 regular season began, so did the pain.
“She threw all the scrimmages and all that but it’s that seven-inning stretch when you start games. We got out for our first game against Central (of Baton Rouge) and she said she could feel it. So we shut her down and it got to the point where it wasn’t getting better and so went to the doctor and they found she had torn labrum, possibly a torn bicep and a lot of inflammation in that shoulder,” said Riverside coach Tamra Regalo.
The surgery was scheduled for Wednesday to give the multi-talented Johnson enough time to recover to be ready for her senior season as an integral part of several Riverside teams.
“With the Easter holiday, they are trying to get in the surgery so she’s not missing school and looking to get back for volleyball, maybe. She’s a big part of volleyball and soccer,” said Regalo.
Johnson was playing second base on Monday.
“I’ve been playing a little second base and hitting and doing what I can to help my team as much as possible to get them where they need to go,” said Johnson.
With Riverside leading 1-0 going to the bottom of the fourth, a base hit past third base by Chloe Simon dove in the first two runs of the inning.
Johnson followed with her two-run shot the left center field.
“Honestly, I thought it was going to be a line drive and catch the top of the fence and I guess it makes its way over,” said Johnson.
With the bases loaded, a sacrifice fly by Ashley Hymel drove in the next run.
Two batters later, it was 9-0 on a two-run single by Avarie Hymel.
Johnson’s bases-loaded double to right center produced the final three runs of the inning, making the score 12-0.
Riverside sent 15 batters to the plate in the inning and pounded out seven hits.
Meanwhile, Riverside pitcher Emily Vicknair allowed just one hit against the Lady Jaguars
“It says a lot for our team,” Regalo said of the playoff-opening triumph. “At this time last year, Lexie (Johnson) was back to go to the playoffs. This year, Emily stepped in as an eighth grader that is growing. We have young shortstop and some veterans on the field, mostly in the outfield and first base, but we really have a young team. For them to get out and get that first playoff win is really big for them.”