STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – Samantha Ricketts announced the addition of Josh Johnson, the former associate head coach at Ball State, as Mississippi State softball’s newest assistant coach.
Johnson joins Tyler Bratton, who is returning for his seventh season as an assistant coach with the program, to round out Ricketts’ full-time staff.
“I am excited to add a coach of Josh’s caliber to our coaching staff,” Ricketts said. “His experience not only as a coach but also as a player on the men’s fastpitch circuit will provide tremendous knowledge to our program. He is data driven and will help us advance our player development through new technology and research. We are looking forward to welcoming Josh, his wife Jenny, and son Jake to StarkVegas.”
Johnson spent the last five seasons as part of the Ball State’s coaching staff as a pitching coach and was elevated to associate head coach prior to the 2019 campaign. Over his five seasons with the program, the Cardinals complied a 157-119 record and a 56-49 mark in Mid-American Conference play. guided Ball State to the 2018 MAC Western Division Crown.
His pitching staff has registered 300-or-more strikeouts in each of the last three seasons, with all three totals ranking among the top five single season marks in program history. His staff’s ERA has also been below 3.00 in each of the last three years.
In 2019, Johnson took a relatively young staff and developed it into one of the nation’s best. With a starting rotation which featured two freshmen, a redshirt sophomore and a senior, the Cardinals finished the year ranked second in the MAC and 69th nationally with a 2.82 ERA. The team’s 313 total strikeouts were also 55th among all NCAA Division I programs. Combined, Ball State’s pitchers threw 10 shutouts in 2019 with each of the team’s five pitchers having a hand in at least two.
Johnson helped junior Alyssa Rothwell develop into a shutdown closer over the 2019 campaign as she set a new Ball State and MAC single-season record of 14 saves. The total led the nation, tied as the third-best single season mark in NCAA history and raised her career total to 28 which is four shy of the current NCAA record.
The Cardinals finished the 2018 season with a league-low 2.48 ERA, despite being plagued by injuries. Ball State's three pitchers helped guide the program to 37 wins, the fourth-highest single season total in program history, and the MAC West Division championship.
Junior starter Aeshia Miles, who had just 53.1 collegiate innings under her belt prior to the 2018 season, took over as the team's ace and became just the sixth player in program history to reach 20 wins in a season en route to All-MAC honors. Overall, Ball State's 2.48 ERA in 2018 was the program's best mark since the 2010 season, as was the staff's 328 total strikeouts.
The 2017 season saw Ball State’s pitchers finish the year with a combined 2.99 ERA, the program’s best mark since the 2013 squad finished the year with a 2.74 ERA. In addition, Ball State's pitchers chalked up 307 strikeouts in 2017 to rank third in the conference. In his first season on staff in 2016, Johnson helped senior pitcher Nicole Steinbach earn four MAC West Division Pitcher of the Week awards and end her career as a two-time NFCA All-Great Lakes Region Third Team honoree.
Prior to joining the staff at Ball State, Johnson served as the primary pitching coach at the University of Texas at El Paso in 2014. Before his one season at UTEP, Johnson served as the top assistant and pitching coach at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette for the 2013 season, which saw the Ragin' Cajuns advance to the NCAA Ann Arbor Super Regional after winning the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional. Under his guidance, the Ragin’ Cajuns pitching staff increased its strikeout total by 122 from the previous season, with Jordan Wallace ranking third nationally with 382 strikeouts.
Before arriving at Louisiana-Lafayette, Johnson spent three seasons as the head coach at Faulkner State Community College (2010-12) where his 119-60 career record makes him the winningest coach in program history. His Sun Chiefs players would earn 14 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-America honors, while breaking every team and individual batting, base running and pitching record in program history. His teams posted the two highest finishes in program history, including the school’s first state championship appearance.
Johnson, who started his fastpitch softball career in 1995, has been playing at the Major level of the North American Fastpitch Association (NAFA) since 2004 as both a pitcher and an outfielder. A 16-time NAFA All-World Team selection, Johnson was inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame in 2013 and was the association’s Most Valuable Player in 2014. He has also competed in numerous tournaments for the US Men’s National Fastpitch Softball Team, most recently playing in the 2015 Pan American Games held in Toronto, Ontario (July 12-18).
As a student-athlete, Johnson was a four-year letterwinner and 1998 First Team All-Conference selection in baseball at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where he earned his bachelor’s in psychology in 2000 and his master’s in Applied Psychology in 2003. Johnson also earned letters in cross country and track & field at Wisconsin-Stout, finishing his athletics career as the only 14-time varsity letterwinner in school history. He continues to hold the Blue Devils’ program record in the indoor 1,000m run, at 2:31.92.
A native of Oregon, Wisconsin, Johnson earned his Ph.D. in sports psychology from Florida State University in 2008. Joining him in Starkville is his wife Jenny and son Jake.