Ethan Johnston

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Fast rising New Zealand pitcher takes his talent to Japan

Monday, July 6th, 2015
19-year-old Ethan Johnston is pitching in Japan after spending two tours pitching in the United States, while also pitching in his native country of New Zealand.

19-year-old Ethan Johnston is pitching in Japan after spending two tours pitching in the United States, while also pitching in his native country of New Zealand.

OSAKA, Japan – Learning to control and make a softball spin up and down can take years of practice and patience for many young pitchers. And once that’s mastered, it can take even longer to rise from the lower to the upper ranks where the best teams contend for national and international championships.

Well, that slow and steady route may apply to some, but not so for Ethan Johnston.

At 14 he started pitching. At 17 he was pitching in the United States. At 18 he was pitching for his country in the International Softball Federation (ISF) Junior Men’s World Tournament. And now, 19-year-old Ethan Johnston is pitching in Japan.

Is Ethan Johnston on the fast track to the top in men’s fastpitch softball? Well, it kind of looks that way.

But if not for an injury and sibling role models, Johnston may have stayed a position player and never learned to spin the riser, drop and change-up that has established him as one of the best young pitchers worldwide.

“I used to be a catcher and third baseman until a knee injury,” said Johnston. “I decided to stop that and become a pitcher. My brother and sister pitched and being the youngest, I wanted to copy them. I had a lot of help from my older brother Carl.”

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Big shoes to fill, but Halsey’s relishing the challenge

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015
Australian, Dean Halsey, 19, will be pitching for the Kansas City Astros during the 2015 United States men's fastpitch season. Courtesy Photo

Australian, Dean Halsey, 19, will be pitching for the Kansas City Astros during the 2015 United States men’s fastpitch season. Courtesy Photo

KANSAS CITY – For the past two seasons, the KC Outlaws have reaped the benefits of having a superior pitcher – one of the best young arms in the game – in New Zealand’s Ethan Johnston.

The talented right-hander pitched the Outlaws to a runner-up spot in the 2013 NAFA World Series A Division, and last year led them to fourth place in the A-Major Division.

He was a Co-Most Valuable pitcher and All-World selection in the World Series. But Johnston isn’t returning to Kansas City this summer. So the search went out for a replacement chucker. One to fill Johnston’s shoes. The Outlaws found one in New Zealander Kevin Papuni, said manager Michael Borjas.

And in major development during the off season, the ball club split into two teams with four players staying with the Outlaws, while several others formed the KC Astros.

So with Johnston deciding not to pitch for the Astros either, and instead taking his talent to Osaka, Japan, the brand new ball club had to search for a pitcher too.

    ONE FOREIGN TALENT REPLACES ANOTHER

And they appear to have found a good one. A pitcher with experience, with talent, and with a soaring upside to his game. But instead of signing a New Zealander, the Astros landed an Aussie.

Dean Halsey, a 19 year old, hails from Wyreema, Queensland, Australia. He’s got all the pitches, has played for his country’s national junior teams, and is thrilled to be coming to the United States on his first trip abroad.

“I am really excited to be here in the U.S. playing with such great guys,” said Halsey. “I just want to learn as much as I can from everyone I meet and play with; it’s going to be an incredible experience.”

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Kansas City Astros return solid core and add new pitcher

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

2015 KC Astros.1lr

KANSAS CITY – The Kansas City Astros, a NAFA A / A-Major team, have a solid core of returning veterans, and by adding a couple of talented prospects, the Astros once again plan on making a run for a NAFA World Series championship come August in Moline, Illinois.

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Beets delivers game-winner for KC Outlaws

Friday, August 8th, 2014

KCjubilation.48web The Kansas City New Age Outlaws rush onto the field to congratulate Riley Beets (far right) after he drove in the winning run in a 2-1, eight inning victory over the Sight & Sound Wolves of Ft. Frances, Ontario, Canada. Photo By BOB OTTO

QUAD CITIES, IA /Il – Riley Beets fouled off pitch after pitch, nine all totaled, before he delivered the game winning hit to push the Kansas City New Age Outlaws to a 2-1 victory in eight innings over the Sight & Sound Wolves of Ft. Frances, Ontario, Canada.

With the game tied with two out and Bobby Fisher on third base, Beets battled Wolves pitcher Bob Andy before getting the pitch he wanted.

“He gave me a curve ball over the plate,” said Beets, who was 2 for 4 and scored a run from his number three spot in the lineup. “I hit it right back at him.”

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Argentina repeats as International Softball Federation Junior Men’s World Champions

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

argentina Argentina won its second consecutive Gold Medal in the International Softball Federation (ISF) Junior Men’s World Championship by defeating New Zealand, 9-0, Sunday at the Pepsi Softball Centre in Whitehorse, Canada.

WHITEHORSE, YUKON, CA – Argentina was slowed down but they couldn’t be stopped.

After losing Saturday to New Zealand, 3-1, in the semi-finals of the playoffs, Argentina came roaring back with a vengeance on Sunday.

And New Zealand felt the brunt of it.

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Johnston leads New Zealand past Argentina into Gold Medal game

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

johnston.kiwi.pitcher.183web Ethan Johnston pitching in the 2013 NAFA World Series for the Kansas City Outlaws. Against Argentina he scattered four hits, walked one and struck out 11 in leading New Zealand to a 3-1 victory and into the Gold Medal game of the 10th ISF Junior Men’s World Championship. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2013 NAFA World Series

WHITEHORSE, YUKON, CA – Argentina swept through the ISF Junior Men’s World Championship undefeated in round-robin play. The hitters scored 66 runs, while the pitching staff did not allow a single run in the first six games, and only three the rest of the way.

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Argentina’s Mata and Godoy overpower New Zealand in ISF Junior Men’s World Championship

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

mata_Huemul Argentina’s Huemul Mata has not allowed any runs in the ISF Junior Men’s World Championship through six games. Photo By MADDY FLANAGAN / ISF Official Photographer

WHITEHORSE, YUKON, CA – The question: Can anyone score off Argentina’s pitching staff? Through six games, no.

Roman Godoy and Huemul Mata have been without blemish by not allowing a single run at the ISF Junior Men’s World Championship.

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Ethan Johnston keeps New Zealand undefeated in the ISF Junior Men’s World Championship

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

wolfpack.johnston.177web New Zealand’s Ethan Johnston pitching in the 2013 NAFA World Series for the Kansas City Outlaws. Johnston was selected the Co-Most Valuable Pitcher of the A Division. Photo By BOB OTTO

New Zealand remains unbeaten in the world championship after surviving close game with Japan.

WHITEHORSE, YUKON, CA – Fastpitch purists fond of pitchers duels would have loved this one, and probably boasted, “good pitching will beat good hitting every time.”

Well, in this particular game, the purists would be right.

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New Zealand scores late to hold off Team USA in ISF Junior Men’s World Championship

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

WHITEHORSE, YUKON, CA – For four innings, Team USA’s Phil Zimmerman and New Zealand’s Ethan Johnston hung zeros on the scoreboard, matching each other pitch for pitch.

But it all changed in the fifth.

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Kiwi and converted slowpitch players impressive in NAFA A World Series

Monday, August 19th, 2013

johnston.kiwi.pitcher.183web Many who saw Ethan Johnston, just 18 years old, pitch in the 2013 NAFA A World Series, believe he has a bright future in the sport. Photo By BOB OTTO

URBANDALE, IOWA – The five foot nine, 160 pound, 18-year-old New Zealander with hair hanging off his shoulders looked more like a drummer in a rock band than a fastpitch softball pitcher.

But with a circular whip of his skinny – but strong – right arm and a snap of his wrist, Ethan Johnston worked magic with a softball, sending it spinning sharply upward, or darting suddenly downward during the four days of the NAFA A World Series.

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