Lucas Johnson (second from right) is pictured with assistant coach Matt Byrnes (from left), Staff Sgt. Jonathan Hill and head coach Mike Byrnes.(Photo: LCWildcats.net)CONNECT>TWEET>LINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE
The 2017 baseball season at Louisiana College started with a bang for the Wildcats, picking up four wins in four games and out scoring their opponent 56-6. It is the best start to a season since 2003.
For Wildcat senior Lucas Johnson, it was the last opening weekend before joining the United States Marines, but it was a weekend he got to share with the man who recruited him, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Hill.
Hill was on hand for the Wildcats’ series against Rust College and was able to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Friday’s double-header to his newest recruit behind the plate.
“It was kind of bittersweet,” Johnson said. “It’s my last season of baseball but it was a great way to start it off, like I’m opening a new chapter in my life.
“I actually met (Hill) my senior year of high school and we talked then. My mom sort of shut that down because she wanted me to go to college first. It just happened that he and Coach Matt Joe are good friends and he was able to sort of reunite us four years later.”
Being involved in the community is something that head coach Mike Byrnes preaches to his players constantly. They participate in blood drives throughout the off-season, have an annual Autism Awareness game, and do multiple fundraisers for cancer research.
For Johnson that meant going beyond just Central Louisiana or his hometown of Jonesboro; it meant serving his country in whatever way he is called.
“I will be the first Marine in my family,” Johnson said. “I have grandparents and great uncles that served in the Army, Navy and the Air Force, so military service sort of runs in my family.
“Coach tells us all the time that ‘It’s about more than just baseball,’ and he talks about the importance of family. I think that’s just like the Marines; they are a brotherhood, just like we are on this team.”
Johnson will report to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina on July 10 to begin Basic Combat Training. After the 12-week boot camp program, he will move on to Camp Geiger in North Carolina for the School of Infantry training.
“In my eyes being in any service is without a doubt the most respectful thing you can do,” LC assistant coach Matt Byrnes said. “I’ve always had that respect for Lucas, and for him to be a Marine and knowing that he’s going to fight for our country, it just shows you that it truly is about more than just baseball.
“We have guys here that are already looking to their future, and it’s really special to us as coaches, to see our players leave here and do something special like that. In our eyes, that’s one of the greatest things that you can do as a person.”
The Wildcats play their first nine games of the 2017 season at Billy Allgood Field on the Louisiana College campus.
Johnson will play his last home game as a Wildcat on April 29, when LC hosts the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Source : http://www.thetowntalk.com/story/sports/college/lc/2017/02/16/just-baseball-lc-senior-join-marines/98009604/