Even as he struggled at the plate to begin his junior baseball season, Barrington’s Luke Johnson never doubted that he would ultimately succeed.
That resolute approach and confident demeanor impressed Broncos coach Pat Wire.
“He always believed that he would be a good player,” Wire said. “He persevered and found his way onto the field.”
Johnson, who would go on to earn the starting nod at third base, hit close to .350 during the final weeks of the season. He has stayed hot this summer, hitting about .400 in summer action for the Broncos.
“He’s putting himself in position to be a big contributor come spring,” Wire said.
Johnson said that there was no reason to sulk or be despondent when he wasn’t hitting or playing as much as he wanted at the start of the season.
“It just made me hungry to work really hard and [fight] my way out of it,” he said.
He wasn’t kidding. Long nights at the batting cage were a constant in the month of April.
“That got me refocused,” he said.
Johnson enjoys the pressure of trying to come through in clutch situations. And he’s not just competitive on the baseball field.
“If we’re playing basketball or even video games he wants to beat everybody,” senior Anthony Delaurentis said. “He’s all about making things competitive.”
Baseball runs in his family. Johnson’s father was a star player at Knox College in Galesburg.
“I don’t remember the last time he missed a game,” Johnson said. “He’s good at critiquing my game. He taught me that if you have a bad game, there’s always another day and to [focus] on the next game.”
Johnson, who is accustomed to playing shortstop, will move to his natural position this upcoming season. He said he learned a great deal from Dan Kubiuk, the starting shortstop last year for the Broncos.
“He has a great arm and he was able to help me with balls deep in the hole,” Johnson said. “He worked with me a lot and made my [fielding] a little smoother.”
Johnson also benefited from talking about the game with Wire.
“Baseball can be a slow game and it’s about anticipation vs. reaction,” Wire said. “He’s now anticipating things before they happen.”
Johnson said he learned a great deal about the mental side of baseball throughout the season.
“Coach Wire taught me how to think ahead and to know what you’re doing on every pitch,” Johnson said. “You have to be prepared for anything.”