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Mike Hennessy, Lawyer
Caruso Club
Friday, Jul. 28, 2017
Curtis Johnson signs with the Ottawa Champions
2017-05-23
by Randy Pascal

It hasn't taken local pitcher Curtis Johnson much time at all to experience the roller coaster that is life as a professional baseball player.

Just months after graduating from West Virginia State University, Johnson was offered an invitation to the training camp of the Ottawa Champions, a team competing in the Can-Am League (independent).

The graduate of Lockerby Composite finished with a record of 2-1 in his final year with the NCAA Yellow Jackets, boasting an ERA of 0.36, with 10 saves and 34 strikeouts in 25 innings.

From there, he continued to impress, earning a contract and a spot on the opening day roster in the nation's capital. "He throws strikes, gets ahead in the count, and has a good downward plane," noted Champions manager Hal Lanier on the team website.

Keep in mind, for a moment, that Lanier can lay claim to nearly 500 games of Major League Baseball managerial experience with the Houston Astros (1986-1988), and a World Series ring as the third base coach with the 1982 St Louis Cardinals.

"It's a dream come true," stated Johnson. "I've been working hard my whole life, sacrificed a lot, and I'm proof that hard work pays off." However, with nerves almost certainly in play, Johnson was dealt a dose of harsh reality in his professional debut.

Facing the Trois-Rivières Aigles last week, Johnson retired but one batter, surrendering four hits, three runs (two of which were earned) and striking out one as Ottawa held on for a 10-6 win.

Johnson will try and turn things around this week, as the Champions host the New Jersey Jackals for a three game set before heading out on the road, battling the Sussex Miners next weekend.

Overall, the team is off to a solid start at 3-1, trailing only the Rockland Boulders (5-0) in the six team circuit. Rounding out the Can-Am League are the Québec Capitales, with exhibition games planned this summer against the national teams from both Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

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