The Drill: Darrius Johnson a valuable hitter for Minnesota West
WORTHINGTON -- Darrius Johnson, who made a name for himself at Jackson County Central High School as both a football player and a baseball player, determined at an early age that the ball and bat game was for him.
"I always remember as a kid watching the Minnesota Twins on TV, and I always remember going to the high school baseball games when I was very young. And it always intrigued me, and I knew I wanted to play baseball when I got older," he said.
After completing a fine baseball career at JCC, Johnson didn't have to go far to continue in the sport. He landed at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, where he became a valuable hitter for head coach TD Hostikka. He loved baseball so much, in fact, that after he graduated with an agriculture degree there, he decided to take 12 more credits so he could continue playing baseball with the Bluejays.
At JCC, Johnson helped the Huskies football team to deep runs in the section tournament. The baseball teams didn't do quite as well as that, but Johnson was able to achieve success with the Jackson Bulls amateur baseball team last year, helping them get to a state tournament in the summer.
In his spare time, Johnson enjoys being outdoors, especially near water with a fishing pole in his hand. When he's finally finished with Minnesota West, he plans to attend South Dakota State University in Brookings, to major in agronomy with perhaps a minor in ag business.
For now, his business is baseball. And his bat is alive with the Bluejays.
The Globe found Darrius Johnson at a West baseball practice recently and queried him about baseball and more for a Drill episode. You can see the video online at www.dglobe.com. Here's a sampling of the interview:
QUESTION: How have you improved as a hitter?
ANSWER: "I would say that one thing that's made me become the hitter I am today would be driveline balls. They're weighted balls that we hit when we're inside or even when we're outside. It just consists of four different weights of balls and three different weights of bats. You start with the heaviest of each and you work your way down. And then do a different bat again. And do the same balls, going from heaviest to lightest."
QUESTION: How would you describe your approach at the plate?
ANSWER: "I would describe my approach to the plate as being aggressive. I'm not afraid to jump on that first pitch fastball, as some people say that's the best pitch you're going to get."
QUESTION: What, in your estimation, is the most valuable advice you're received in your athletic career?
ANSWER: "Some of the most valuable advice I've received is that when a coach isn't yelling at you, he doesn't care about you."