COLLEGE BASEBALL

Johnson ends stellar career with Boilermakers

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WEST LAFAYETTE — Trent Johnson put the final staple in a four-year baseball stint at Purdue University last Saturday against Penn State. The former Crawfordsville Athenian and Indiana All-Star pitcher took the hill for the final time for the black and gold on Saturday, when the Boilermakers continued a game against the Nittany Lions that was postponed from Thursday.

When the game resumed Johnson and the Boilermakers found themselves down 2-1 in the third inning. The Boilermakers needed a shutdown performance from Johnson and that’s exactly what he did pitching five innings and surrendering five hits and only two earned runs as he picked up the win in a 7-4 Boilermaker victory. 

Johnson was pulled in the ninth with nobody out after a leadoff single by the Nittany Lions. He left the game to a rousing standing ovation from the Purdue faithful at Alexander field and gave each one of his teammates a hug before exiting the field. 

After the game Johnson took the time to reflect on what has been a stellar career with the Boilermakers which sees his name littered throughout the Purdue record books. 

“The opportunity that I’ve gotten here the last four years has been amazing,” Johnson said. “I never expected to end up here, but I’m so thankful for getting the chance to be part of this program and to have the career that I did and I loved every single second of it.”

Johnson, who graduated from Crawfordsville in 2017, was a last minute addition to Purdue’s recruiting class when former Boilermaker coach Mark Wasikowski was impressed by Johnson in a late-season start against North Montgomery. The former Athenian great continued his dominance out of the gate at Purdue as a bullpen specialist, before eventually earning a starting role. When Wasikowski left for Oregon in the 2019-20 offseason, Johnson had to do very little to impress former assistant and now Purdue head coach Greg Goff to keep his prominent role.

“With Trent there is no ego,” Goff said. “He’s a complete team player and it’s hard to find guys like him in today’s game. Whether we ask him to start a game of come out of the bullpen to pitch, seeing him evolve and being able to have as much success as he did in a conference like the Big Ten is pretty special.”

In fact, Goff tabbed Johnson as the opening day starter in both 2020 and 2021. The now former Boilermaker, who was celebrated with his senior teammates during the weekend series against Minnesota and Penn State, wasn’t just good for the Boilermakers over the course of his four-year career — he was great.

Johnson leaves the Boilermaker baseball program as their all-time leader in fewest hits allowed per nine innings (5.8), second all-time in strikeouts per nine innings (9.7), and third all-time in career ERA with a mark of 2.56. And the list goes on and on.

With the ability to come into any situation when called upon Johnson has more than proven himself as a guy who doesn’t fear the moment and when Coach Goff calls his number, he’ll be ready for anything that stands in his way. Johnson credits both of his parents Gayle and Kelly Johnson for molding him into the athlete that he is today.

“I knew that I had to be ready to compete at any given time,” Johnson said. “With my mom and dad being both athletes and now my mom coaches, I think I’ve just come with that competitive nature in me. Whenever its my turn I’m going to go out there and make the best of it.” 

For Kelly and Gayle seeing their son become the player that he has, has been a dream come true. They didn’t know quite where the journey would take Trent, but when it ended up being Purdue, they knew he had found a special place. 

“He’s had an outstanding four years at Purdue,” Kelly said. “We appreciate his coaches and teammates he’s been able to be around and the fun we’ve had watching him play and getting to meet other families had been so special.” 

“Purdue is a class program and we’ve enjoyed just following him these last four years,” Gayle added. “It’s a great group of guys and for Trent to get to experience this is amazing.” 

While Johnson has had a tremendous amount of success with the Boilermakers in his four years, he stays humble and doesn’t forget where he came from. The Athenian baseball program helped mold Johnson into the player he is today and that’s something that sticks with him to this very day. 

“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Crawfordsville baseball,” Johnson said. “They were a huge part of my development to allow me to get where I am today. I still keep in contact with a ton of those guys and the Athenian baseball family is really special to me.” 

Goff continued to praise Johnson for all of the hard work that he has put in and the way he has helped lead the Boilermakers this season as a senior. 

“He’s been the epitome of what we want a student athlete to be in our program,” he said. “He’s never late and always shows up early. He works extremely hard and all of those things have helped attribute to his success over the last four years.” 

Johnsnon graduates from Purdue with a bachelor’s degree in financial counseling & Planning. What is next for him you may ask? Well Johnson is keeping his mind open to any and all possibilities. 

“Right now the future is undecided,” Johnson said. “I’m just taking it one day at a time and going about it that way.” 

Whatever the future does hold for Johnson, if this is the end of his baseball career, it’s been a special one to follow. Whether he’s dawning the Athenian gold and blue or the Boilermaker black and gold, Johnson has left his mark wherever he has been. 

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