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File / The Herald Wetumpka’s Seth Johnson hit .500 during the second half of the season.

When a high school athlete transfers to a new school, the transition is not always easy when trying to find a role on the new team. However, Seth Johnson made things easy for the Wetumpka baseball team, providing a big boost at the plate while being a major contributor on the mound and in the field.

“We knew he would be able to come in and contribute to the team,” Wetumpka coach Michael Dismukes said. “But I never expected for him to do what he did at the plate. He gave our whole team confidence with how he swung the bat.”

Johnson finished the season as the team’s leader in hits, runs, walks, doubles, home runs and RBIs. He posted a batting average of .460 with an on-base plus slugging (OPS) of 1.475, leading the county in both categories. Johnson is the Elmore County Baseball Player of the Year.

“During the preseason, we were doing some scrimmages and he just made a difference,” Dismukes said. “We saw he was a good hitter and we just hoped it would transfer into the real games.”

That success clearly transferred over quickly as Johnson hit eight home runs while striking out just seven times in 113 at bats. He racked up 26 doubles which will land him in a tie for ninth place in the AHSAA record books for most doubles in a season.

Johnson was the steady three-hole hitter for the Indians but his versatility in the field helped Wetumpka keep its best lineup together for most games. When he was not on the mound, Johnson spent time in right field and at first base without recording a fielding error.

“It made the whole lineup better,” Dismukes said. “He was able to move around the field a little bit and that helped keep other guys in spots they needed 

to be in.”

While his production at the plate made the biggest difference, Johnson’s ability on the mound was not overshadowed. When the season began, Wetumpka was not sure how Johnson would fit into the pitching staff but before long, he moved into the role as the team’s No. 1 pitcher.

Johnson finished the season with an 8-3 record while recording 61 strikeouts and just 19 walks in 54 2/3 innings. He capped off the year with a complete-game victory in the first round of the postseason against Benjamin Russell. 

“We didn’t know he could be that dominant,” Dismukes said. “We knew he could pitch pretty well and throw strikes but we didn’t see that competitive nature come out of him until the season started. That really helped him when he was on the mound.”

When the second half of the season arrived, Johnson seemed to turn it up a notch at the plate and on the mound. During the team’s final 19 games, Johnson had a .500 batting average while scoring 25 runs and recording 21 RBIs.

“During an outing against Opelika, he pitched a complete game win and hit two homers,” Dismukes said. “That was a real turning point for him. Toward the end of the year when games mattered a little bit more, he showed some competitive spirit and it made him better.”

Wetumpka loses six seniors off the 2019 roster but Johnson will return for one more year. Dismukes said the team will need to find some extra production to help out but he still expects Johnson to be a huge force again next season.

“He’s going to be the nucleus of our lineup again,” Dismukes said. “We’ll have to have other guys step up to fill some empty roles but he will still be a huge factor for us on offense.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.