Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pair of Aces Up Ante in Fast-Pitch Rivalry

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pair of Aces Up Ante in Fast-Pitch Rivalry

Article excerpt

Two pitchers, sophomore Heather Johnson of Orange Park High and

junior Jen Kralisz of Middleburg High, are leading their

respective teams' march into the state high school softball

polls.

Last week, Orange Park (12-3) was ranked fifth and Middleburg

(13-3) was seventh in the Class 6A state poll. Both pitchers

have had much to do with their teams' success this season.

Kralisz has a record of 12-1 with 74 strikeouts and an earned

run average of 0.62, while Johnson has a record of 12-3 with 148

strikeouts and a 0.41 ERA to go along with four no-hitters.

The teams have split the two games they have played, with

Johnson winning the first game 6-0 on March 4 and Kralisz

pitching a 6-0 shutout in the second game Thursday.

Raider coach Lonnie Jones, in his fourth year, said Johnson has

given consistent effort.

"She fights hard and she is an outstanding practice player,

giving 100 percent in all that she does," Jones said. "The ball

games are easy for her because she works so hard in practice."

Jones compares Johnson favorably to last year's star pitcher,

Sabrina Jay, who is now pitching for Florida Community College

at Jacksonville. He said they have similar styles but Johnson

has the potential to be even better.

Johnson said she has developed a good foundation for fast-pitch

at Ridgeview Junior High and from playing with Team Jax (an

off-season fast-pitch team).

She also said that she has gotten comfortable as the season has

progressed but she still gets nervous when she thinks that this

is only her first year in high school.

Johnson, who hails from Pennsylvania, said she looks forward to

playing against pitchers such as Kralisz because the competition

motivates her.

"It is total competition. We are all friends because we have

all played together for years but on the field, let's play and

see who is the best," Johnson said. …

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