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NCS softball: Retiring James Logan coach hopes to go out on top

UNION CITY — The end is nearing for James Logan’s longtime softball coach Teri Johnson.
A run that began during the Ronald Reagan administration will reach the finish line in the North Coast Section playoffs that begin this week.
Naturally, Johnson and her players are looking for storybook ending.
“A storybook finish, of course, would be us taking NCS and getting a ring,” Johnson said. “That would be a storybook finish. But, you know, NCS is tough to get through with Amador and Foothill and Heritage and Freedom.”
No matter what unfolds, Logan won’t end the season empty-handed. A group that includes eight seniors claimed the program’s 22nd Mission Valley Athletic League championship under Johnson last week in the coach’s final league game, a 7-1 victory on the road over Newark Memorial.
Camille Rodriguez threw her fourth no-hitter of the season, and Tyavana Salazar put an exclamation point on the outcome with a home run over the center-field fence in the final inning.
“It’s so special that we’re her last team,” Rodriguez said. “We definitely want to leave her on a good note.”
Johnson was among the pregame honorees before last week’s contest — Newark Memorial’s Senior Day — and then sent her players onto the sunny but windy field, where they excelled like so many of the coach’s teams through the decades.
They hit, pitched and defended better than their opponent.
“Real special,” an emotional Johnson said after the win. “To come out and put everything you have on the field tonight and throw a no-hitter, home run, execute. I couldn’t have asked for a better game out of these girls for a championship.
“And going out on top at the last (league) game. That’s awesome, too.”
Rodriguez called Johnson a second mom, noting that the coach’s door is always open.
“She really cares for you like no other coach does,” the senior said. “During school, we could go to her whenever we want. There is no drama because we always settle it. She is like our mom.”
Johnson started coaching at Logan in 1984 at the JV level and took over the varsity team two years later. She has coached the varsity every year since then but one, when she left for a year to coach at Cal.
She has a 669-161 record and, naturally, countless memories.
Johnson said her 1990 team was special because it won the first of Logan’s five NCS championships.
“That team is going to be inducted into the Logan Hall of Fame in October,” Johnson said.
The coach also mentioned the Raeann Garza era. The pitcher led Logan to section titles in 2010, 2012 and 2013.
“With her on the mound, she was 88-11,” Johnson said. “She was all of 5-foot-3 and 100 pounds soaking wet. We had a great group of girls her freshman year.”
The final stage of this season starts Wednesday as Logan, seeded seventh in the NCS Division I bracket, plays host to No. 10 seed Alhambra. The winner advances to face at No. 2 seed Heritage this weekend.
 
One year after reaching the NCS Division I final — a run that included an upset of top-seeded Amador Valley in the quarterfinals — Logan is peaking at the right time. The Colts have won four in a row and eight of their past nine.
Of course, any team aiming to make a deep run needs pitching, and Logan has that.
Rodriguez said the win over Newark Memorial wasn’t her best game, but her catcher, Cassandra Wenn, begged to differ.
“Cam’s a perfectionist,” Wenn said. “She is really hard on herself. She threw a great game even though she says it’s not her best. She’s very modest. All her pitches were working.”

The girls from Logan, in coach Teri Johnson’s final season, have won the MVAL softball title with a 7-1 over Newark Memorial. | @VytasMazeika @coachnatesmith @JensenPhil pic.twitter.com/oRfptKssF5
— Darren Sabedra (@DarrenSabedra) May 16, 2018

If there was pressure because of Johnson’s retirement and a league championship on the line, the Colts did not show it.
Wenn chalks that up to experience.
“Going back to last year, we had a lot of pressure on us, facing Amador second round, first seed with us being the eighth seed, them being the defending champions,” Wenn said. “We’ve gotten used to pressure. That’s part of Logan culture.”
Johnson still has two years to teach, so she plans to be around to assist the program’s next coach, Amanda Camuso.
“She played at Saint Mary’s College,” Johnson said. “Her one sister played at Oregon, first base, and her other sister played at UCLA. Softball is definitely in her blood, and she also teaches at Logan and knows our kids. The kids really like her. That’s important to me.”
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It’s also important for this season to end with a win.
“We don’t get kicked out if we keep winning,” Wenn said. “That’s our mentality. We’re definitely going for that ring this time.”

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