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NH’s Johnson named to South All-Star team

Crawford County’s Bo Benham and North Harrison’s Cody Johnson have been named to the Indiana South All-Star team and will play in the 34th Annual Indiana Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Series this weekend at the Frank Eck Stadium on the Notre Dame University campus July 11 through 13.
‘As far as I know, this is the first selection for Crawford County in terms of the North-South All-Star game,’ said Crawford head coach Greg Gogel. ‘He is in elite company as far as talent across the state, and the magnitude of this selection is comparable to an Indiana All-Star in basketball and a North/South selection in football.’
‘Cody Johnson’s work ethic is second to none,’ said North Harrison coach Greg Oppel. ‘I have never been around a kid who works as hard as he does. Cody is as deserving of this North-South honor as any kid who has ever been on the South team. A lot of the kids who are on this team have already been drafted by a professional team. Cody is in tremendous company.’
Players from both teams will be honored Friday night at the Hoosier Diamond/IHSBCA All-Star Recognition Banquet. Dave Schrage, head coach at Notre Dame, will be the guest speaker. Indiana’s Mr. Baseball will also be named during the banquet. On Saturday, the two teams will play a doubleheader and a wooden bat game will be played on Sunday.
‘Bo making the team was based on a nomination and deliberation from District 0 coaches,’ Gogel said. ‘That nomination, stats, etc., goes to the South committee where 5 to 10 IHSBCA members select a group of the best players from the southern part of the state. Several of the South committee members were coaches that had seen Bo play throughout the season. This helped tremendously in advancing his candidacy in the south.’
‘Cody’s work ethic certainly did not come without a price,’ Oppel said. ‘Cody’s father, Bill Johnson, has worked with this young man countless hours and made many sacrifices to push Cody to this type of success. A lot of times, kids are labeled a certain phrase for staying an extra 45 minutes to work on hitting or to work on mechanics, or come in on a day when you would rather be out with your friends. I call it, ‘Love of the Game’ and true dedication. Cody’s dedication paid off in a big way, as he is going to Oakland City on a baseball scholarship.’
Benham, a 6-2 catcher, averaged .500 at the plate with 37 hits in 74 at-bats. He scored 33 runs and had five home runs for the 2008 season. The Crawford graduate struck out just six times, was walked 17 times and stole 20 bases. Benham finished the season with 30 runs batted in.
‘He is a natural talent that works hard at improving his game,’ said Gogel. ‘That’s a rare combination. Some talented players just rely on it and sometimes peak out in their performance or become complacent. Other players are less talented and work extremely hard but do not see the rewards as soon as a more talented player may see them.’
Johnson finished his final year as a Cougar with an 8-4 record. The Cougar lefty finished with an ERA of 1.10 with 71 strikeouts. He walked just 10 batters for the year and picked off nine runners.
‘Cody was a tremendous hitter batting third in our lineup in front of Honorable Mention All-State Adam Kiesler,’ Oppel said. ‘He hit around .430, which is tremendous when you consider the workload he carried on the mound.’
‘I am sure that there were times when Cody thought he couldn’t go any more, but he would dig down deep and find a way to either get an out on the mound or a timely hit,’ he said. ‘Cody threw five of the best innings against Austin when they were No. 1 in the state that I had seen in a long time.’
‘This kid had a tremendous sectional with wins over Mitchell and the final win over Corydon. We had heard so much going into the North-Corydon final. I was extremely pleased with Cody’s discipline during that game. We stress that and demand it as a program. He could have gotten upset with a tight strike zone or some of the comments directed at him, but he never flinched or even smiled ’til he had done his job on the mound.’
The North team swept the series last year and currently leads the series with 53 wins to the South’s 43 wins. Gogel said several All-Star members have gone on to be drafted by professional baseball teams and earn college scholarships.
‘Tremendous potential,’ said Gogel. ‘Bo has done a nice job, and I’m sure he will continue to do a nice job in college.’
‘I really hope the underclassmen understand the importance and significance this selection means to them and as a baseball program here at CC,’ he said. ‘There are scholarships available and opportunities to be recognized for hard work and performing in the game of baseball. Bo has received both of these this season, and I do not think it can be limited just to this young man. The potential is there for kids across Crawford County to enjoy these very successes Bo has had.’