High 5s: 5/22/12

May 22, 2012

None of this week's High 5s honorees knows much about losing. Ann Arbor Pioneer's Drake Johnson is unequaled in his best race, Decatur's Erika Southworth has averaged more than 25 wins pitching each season of high school, and the Remus Chippewa Hills girls track team hasn't lost during the regular season in nearly a decade.

Erika Southworth

Decatur senior


Southworth, a pitcher, is finishing her fourth varsity season after earning all-state honors after all of her previous three. She both won her 100th game and notched her 1,000th career strikeout last week, putting her in the MHSAA record book in both categories. Southworth is 24-3 this season with a 0.83 ERA and 199 strikeouts, and also leads her team with a .448 batting average and 35 RBI. She's signed to play next season at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and is considering a major in business. Decatur is ranked No. 7 in the state coaches Division 4 poll.

Celebrate good times: "My 100th win was at home, and they gave me a picture that said '100 wins.' It's really nice. ... My 1,000th strikeout was at Climax-Scotts, and my teammates were counting down in the dugout. I was batting one inning, and I could hear them whispering. After the strikeout, my catcher called timeout and came out and gave me a hug. Then the umpire (asked what had happened), called timeout, gave the ball to my coach and announced it to everyone on the field."

Commander-in-chief: Southworth is her class' president and has been part of the student council and National Honor Society. "I like being involved with my class. I've gotten to know a lot of people that I wouldn't usually talk to in a regular school day."

I learned the most about pitching from: One of my high school teammates from a couple of years ago (Kelsey Vliek), her dad (Jeff) got me into it. After that, I just played travel ball, and my coach would help. Then I just went to different pitching coaches." 

Competing with Cole: Southworth has a fun rivalry with little brother Cole, a freshman wrestler and baseball catcher. "We both take strength and conditioning at school, different hours but we do the same lifts. So we try to beat each other that way. ... This year is the first year I've ever pitched to him. I always told my mom it wasn't a good idea. I'd just aim for his face all the time."

The ball starts here: "I like that I start out every play. The pitcher kinda controls the game, controls the pace of the game. I like knowing where most of the balls are going to be hit. (And) I think it's more of a challenge. I always go for more of the challenging things."

(Click to read more.)

Drake Johnson

Ann Arbor Pioneer senior

Track and Field

Johnson, who has signed to play football this fall at the University of Michigan, is a two-time MHSAA Division 1 champion in the 110-meter hurdles, and won both that race (14.25) and the 300 hurdles (38.63) at Friday's Division 1 Regional at Saline. He also ran on the second-place and state-qualifying 1,600 relay and on the third-place 800 relay. Johnson owns the Pioneers' record in the 110 hurdles of 13.7 seconds. Last fall as a running back, he was tops in the state with 2,809 yards rushing, sixth in the MHSAA record book for one season. He also is interested in running track at U-M.

Loving both for different reasons: "I like the thrill of football. I love the games, the scoring, the hype around football. Track, it's just the competitiveness of one-on-one. It's your best effort against their best effort." 

I learned the most about running from: "I've always had my coaches at Pioneer, and my dad (Michael Johnson) has always been my hurdles coach. If I feel like I'm not running as well as I can, I can say, 'Hey dad,' and he'll say come to the track a couple times and we can fix it."

As a running back, I try to be like: "Not a single person, but a combination of Tyrone Wheatley and Eric Dickerson. Just watching videos with my dad, I got interested in seeing what (Dickerson) ran like. He really was amazing at what he did."

My favorite thing to do that isn't a sport is: "I love watching movies. Any movie I can find. I love the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movies, and I love the 'Oceans' (Eleven, Twelve, etc.) movies."

Up next: Johnson will major in philosophy and psychology, and eventually wants to be a psychiatrist. "Just knowing how people think. ... I always tried to see things from other people's points of view. I'm an open-minded person, and (I enjoy) the whole study of trying to see how people think."

(Click to

Remus Chippewa Hills girls track and field

Heading into last week, the Warriors were riding a 74-dual meet win streak, and edged Mount Pleasant by 1.5 points to win their Division 2 Regional on Friday. Chippewa Hills, competing in the Central State Activities Association tonight, also won its 10th-straight league championship meet Tuesday. Most of the Warriors are underclassmen -- the team has only one senior.

(Click to

This spring's previous honorees

Bedford Sophomore Powers Up with 23 Homers, Just Getting Started

By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com

June 7, 2023

TEMPERANCE – Here’s a warning for softball teams facing Temperance Bedford the next couple of seasons: Intentionally walking Aubrey Hensley only gives her more confidence.

Southeast & BorderThe Kicking Mules sophomore just finished her season with 23 home runs in 39 games, shattering school and Monroe County records. She remembers the home runs from the season that ended in the Division 1 District Finals, but she also remembers the walks.

“Our first game of the season, my first at-bat, I didn’t even get a swing in,” Hensley said. “As a hitter, it plays with your mind, but it also gives you confidence. If I go to the plate and they aren’t even willing to pitch to me, that gives me even more confidence. The next time up, I’m really going to look for my pitch.”

Hensley saw plenty of pitches she liked this season. She hit just a tick below .500 (61 hits in 124 at-bats), with seven doubles, five triples and nearly two dozen homers. They were pretty much split between the newly renovated Kicking Mules field in Temperance and road games.

Her most memorable home run was at Ypsilanti Lincoln.

“I usually have pretty good games at their field,” she said. “This year I hit a home run and hit the building which is behind the fence. That was a good one. I liked that watching and hearing that one hit.”

Hensley grew up in Toledo and moved across the state line in fifth grade. By then she was already involved in northwest Ohio travel softball programs.

“Softball kind of came naturally for me,” she said. “I loved to go to the field with my mom (Amanda) or my brother or just hit off the tee. I just have a mentality that I’m a good hitter and I can do whatever I put my mind to.”

Prior to her freshman season, Mules coach Marla Gooding, a first-grade teacher at Bedford, sent Hensley into the weight room. 

“I was not expecting to hit home runs going into my freshman season,” Hensley said. “I didn’t really know what to expect.

“When I was little, I wasn’t always a power hitter. I would hit a few doubles or triples and get into the ball some. I worked and put in time in the weight room, especially going into the freshman year. I think that really contributed to my home run hitting. Coach had us in the weight room during the season a little bit. It helps to develop your body to be a power hitter.”

Hensley steps to the plate against Monroe. With the power in place, Hensley began concentrating on swinging through the ball.

“I don’t expect to hit a home run every time, but I go up to the plate thinking it’s possible,” she said. “I’m swinging to get through the ball and just drive it somewhere. I’m not hitting for contact. If you just go up hitting for contact, you are swinging lighter, and if it doesn’t go far, you start doubting yourself. I just go up and swing to drive the ball.”

Countless hours hitting off the tee and facing batting practice pitchers helped her fine-tune her swing. 

“I don’t like to get down on myself, because then it snowballs onto the field or another at-bat,” she said. “Short memory is one thing we really wanted to work on this year. I think I applied that more. It’s difficult sometimes if you aren’t getting the pitches that you want or aren’t producing. I just try to go up there with some swag and get the job done.”

Gooding called her a dream to coach.

“She’s a power-five softball player,” she said. “And the greatest kid ever. Seriously, a workhorse and team-first mentality.”

On the field, she is the Bedford catcher. She didn’t commit an error all season.

Hensley was a pitcher at a young age but loved the transition to behind the plate.

“When I got behind the plate, I loved it,” she said. “It’s like being a general out there controlling the whole field. I get to see everyone and everything. I put in a lot of work when I was little. I started with the basics and just advanced from there. I’m pretty dedicated to being the best I can behind the plate for my pitcher.”

Hensley will balance her summer of babysitting, playing basketball for the Mules in June and a busy summer travel softball season that will take her around Ohio, Kansas and Tennessee. She helped the Kicking Mules set a school record for wins with 23 and win a District title in basketball last winter.

Hensley isn’t the only Bedford softball player to show power this season. As a team, Bedford hit 51 home runs, including 12 by teammate Payton Pudlowski. That is one of the reasons Hensley isn’t simply intentionally walked time after time.

“We have some solid pieces behind her, and the two girls in front of her got on base all of the time,” Gooding said. “It was hard for other teams to do that.”

With 23 home runs this season, Hensley’s put her name among the top five all-time single seasons in state history. The record is 29 by Kali Heivilin from Three Rivers in 2021.

With 34 career home runs, she is almost in the top 25. 

Hensley isn’t concerned about records right now, except for one thing. She wants to put up a number that, by the time she graduates, is out of this world.

As she tells it, “I want to push the record so far that no one can touch it by the time I’m done with my career at Bedford.”

She might already have.

Doug DonnellyDoug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Bedford’s Aubrey Hensley prepares to drive a pitch this season. (Middle) Hensley steps to the plate against Monroe. (Photos by Christine Kwiatkowski.)