Western Wayne senior Kyle Johnson will continue his diamond career at Lock University in the fall.
One of the area's top high school pitchers has announced that he's taking his game to the next level in the fall.
Western Wayne's Kyle Johnson gathered with friends, family, coaches and administrators this week to sign his Letter of Intent for Lock Haven University.
“I think Kyle is definitely ready for baseball at the next level,” Wildcats coach Jason Kromko said.
“He's been on the varsity for four years and a starter for almost all of that time. Kyle's worked hard on his game and he's become a very good player.”
Johnson is also a perennial Lackawanna League all star in soccer and longtime coach Matt Fitzsimmons believes Kyle's overall athleticism will serve him well at the NCAA level.
“I coached Kyle for four years of soccer and also in junior high basketball,” he said. “He's a very gifted natural athlete who could probably do well in any sport he chose.
“I have no doubt at all that Kyle will be successful at Lock Haven. He's a big, strong kid and he's just going to get bigger and stronger.”
Johnson has developed into one of the region's elite pitchers over the course of his varsity career.
Kyle struggled early this season, but has come on like gangbusters since.
“Yeah, he had kind of a rough first game and it took awhile to bounce back from that,” Coach Kromkos said.
“But, we made a couple of minor adjustments. He finally found his arm slot and the velocity just shot right back up. Kyle's been pitching great ever since.”
Heading into weekend action, Johnson's overall record stood at 2-2. He is among the league leaders in strikeouts and boasts a solid 3.23 ERA.
Coach Kromko also believes Johnson can be successful as a hitter at the collegiate level. He is currently among the team leaders in most power categories, including doubles and RBIs.
“I'll tell you what: Kyle is the kid I want up to bat with the game on the line,” said Coach Kromko. “We hit him three of four for a reason. He's capable of driving in runs whenever we need them.”
Lock Haven is a Division II school whose baseball team competes in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).
The Bald Eagles have been coached by Paul Stover for the past 25 years. “Smokey” reached the 400-win milestone last season as his team compiled a 16-28 overall record.
Lock Haven struggled a bit this spring, winning just five games in the PSAC East against 23 losses.
The Bald Eagles did not advance to the conference playoffs as only the top four in each division qualify.
Millersville, Bloomsburg, West Chester and Kutztown represented the East, while Seton Hill, Mercyhurst, Pitt-Johnstown and Slippery Rock qualified in the West.
The last time Lock Haven made a playoff appearance was 2009 on the heels of a 13-11 campaign.
Johnson should make an immediate impact for a team whose pitching staff could use an upgrade.
Bald Eagle hurlers put up a combined ERA of 6.07 through 41 games and enemy batters hit a robust .323 for the season.
“I think the thing that will help Kyle the most is his confidence,” said Coach Kromko. “Kyle has no fear on the mound. It doesn't matter who's up there, he's coming right after you with his best stuff.”
Kyle is the son of Vincent & Denise Johnson, Waymart. He will enroll as a pre-engineering student with the ultimate goal of becoming a civil engineer.