Published 12:03 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ryan Johnson is to baseball like Shakespeare is to poetry.

The senior Escambia Academy center fielder will try and help lead the Cougars to a second-round series victory over Macon East in Montgomery this week. The best of three series starts tomorrow, April 27. Games are at 4 and 6 p.m. The if-necessary game, in case of a split on Thursday, will be Friday at 4.

Johnson was an integral part of EA’s first-round win over Russell Christian last week. He hit two triples and had two RBIs in the second-game win, and played good defense.

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“It’s going to be a tough one,” Johnson said about this week’s games. “We’re going to have to do all we can. We did well last week. Now, we’ve got to worry about this coming up week.”

This week, Johnson will be playing in a somewhat unfamiliar position. Because of Kainoa Gumapac’s back injury he suffered last week, Johnson will start at the catcher’s position.

Johnson said he doesn’t mind playing at catcher because he’s been there before, especially during bullpen sessions.

Johnson began playing baseball when he was 3 years old. He playing in the Atmore league, and when he was between 6 to 7 years old, he started playing travel ball. In the sixth grade, he took a break from the travel circuit, and focused on school ball.

Johnson started playing baseball at EA in seventh grade, the same year he picked up travel ball again.

During the past season, he played for the Perdido Cubs, and several others over the course of many years.

It was during his first year as an All-Star as a youngster was when Johnson felt like he could play baseball.

“My first year I got moved up from the pitching machine, I hit my first homerun,” he said. “I think back on that a lot. That was one of my favorite memories.”

Johnson said the one thing he likes about baseball is that he deceives others with his 5-foot-9, 160-pound frame.

“Everybody looks at me being smaller than most people, and that I can’t do what those bigger players can do,” he said, adding that people tend to think of bigger players having success in the game, more so than smaller players.

Johnson said this season has been a good one, and that the Cougars are hitting their stride at the right time.

“It started off really good, then we got in a hole for a little while,” he said. “We’re hoping to get back out of it. It’s a good time to come back out of it, the start of playoffs.”

Johnson is the son of Heather and Rod Johnson of Atmore.