SMCHS shortstop is headed to the University of Notre Dame to play ball

By Jenelyn Russo     5/28/2019

Miranda Johnson was a soccer-playing five-year-old when a friend encouraged her to sign up for softball. Now a senior at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, it is the team aspect of the sport that has kept her in the game all these years. 

“I love that [softball] is not just about the individual; it’s about the team,” says Johnson. “That’s something that’s really special to me.” 

As a shortstop for the Eagles, Johnson uses her spot in the infield to help lead her teammates. 

“Shortstop is a leadership position,” says the 18-year-old. “It’s a position where people look towards you, and that just makes it easier to step into a leadership role.” 

Johnson approached the final season of her high school softball career by focusing on one game at a time. Her goal for her team was to win Trinity League, and the Eagles did just that, as they ended up in a three-way tie for the league title with Orange Lutheran and Mater Dei and advanced as far as the CIF-SS Division 1 quarterfinals. 

“What makes ‘MJ’ so special is her kind heart,” says Santa Margarita softball head coach, John FitzPatrick. “She genuinely cares about her teammates, one through sixteen, no matter what grade they are in, or whether they are a starter or role player. It’s very rare to see that quality demonstrated by a high school senior.” 

As a captain, the four-year varsity starter knows that respect is earned, and Johnson has worked on leading her teammates with her voice as much as her example. 

“My quiet demeanor has been my biggest challenge,” says Johnson. “A lot of coaches told me I couldn’t play shortstop because I was too quiet. My high school coach was actually the first person who gave me the confidence to show them that I could lead, not only by example, but with my voice.” 

Work ethic, discipline and time management are just of few of the life skills Johnson has learned as a student athlete. The Rancho Santa Margarita resident also helps to lead a confirmation class at her church, where guiding others in their journey of faith helps to strengthen her own. 

“I definitely trust in God and his plan,” says Johnson. “If I’m having a bad day mentally, I know that I’m meant to be in this sport, even when it gets hard.” 

Johnson is headed to the University of Notre Dame where she will play softball and study business. She is inspired by friend and Santa Margarita alumnus, Meghan McClure, who plays volleyball for Stanford University.  

“She inspires me to be a better player, teammate and person because of her drive to win,” says Johnson of McClure. “Her drive to win has made me play at my best. She’s taught me that you can be super competitive and also have fun with it.”