By Bobby Mathews, Sports Editor
MOODY — It’s hard to tell Zach and Matt Johnson apart. The twins are both tall and lean, polite to a fault, with short, neatly barbered red hair. As they prepare to sign their National Letters of Intent, they’re wearing two different-colored fleece vests to make it easier to tell them apart.
The Johnsons, both seniors at Moody High School, weren’t born on the baseball diamond, but they might as well have been. Zach was first-team All-State. He’s an outfielder and a pitcher with a fastball clocked in the mid-80s. For a change of pace, he throws a knuckleball that’s disguised by the same arm motion as the fastball. Matt is maybe the more versatile, playing infield and outfield as well as pitching, a sidearm thrower on the mound whose fastball is maybe a hair slower than his brother’s.
They’re both three-year starters for the Blue Devils, both dedicated to learning the craft of baseball.
Ask them which one is the better player, and they both smile and raise their hands.
The Johnsons signed Thursday to play college ball at Central Alabama Community College.
“We started getting looked at this summer by coaches at Southern Union because our coach (Eamon Kelly) had coached there,” Zach said. “That’s where it started, and it just kept going, you know, we started going to workouts and everything.”
While both brothers enjoy pitching, they probably prefer to play in the field, because they want their turn at the plate.
“I’d rather play outfield,” Zach said. “I like hitting.”
They’ve been playing baseball since they were four or five years old, and they’ve been in the Moody baseball program since they were in the seventh grade. A couple of years later, a growth spurt hit.
Kelly said that he expects them to get even bigger and stronger in college.
“The thing is that these guys are only 17,” Kelly said. “They’re still young athletes, and they’ll hit a secondary growth spurt. I think they’ll gain 15 to 20 pounds of muscle in college.”
The twins wanted to stay together when they played college ball, Matt said.
“We’ve always wanted to go to continue to play together,” Matt said. “We’re like two of the same players. You’ve got two guys who can play different positions and two bats in the lineup that are basically the same.”
And playing baseball at the next level is something that both boys have wanted for a long time.
“It means everything,” Zach said. “I’ve wanted this since I was 8 years old. Just striving to get to that next level.”
First they’ve got a senior season to complete at Moody. From there, they’ll head to Central Alabama to continue to pursue that dream.