Infielder takes advantage of extra year of eligibility by NCAA


Washington native and senior infielder Eli Johnson decided to stay on with the Lions after the National Collegiate Athletics Association decided to extend eligibility to spring student-athletes for another year. Following this decision, Johnson shared what he hopes to accomplish in his upcoming season.

On March 12, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced that the 2020 baseball season would be canceled due to COVID-19. This led to several senior-athletes saying goodbye earlier than anticipated.

Approximately two weeks after the cancellation of the season, the NCAA came out with an extra year of eligibility to all spring student-athletes. One of these student-athletes to take advantage of this opportunity was senior Lions infielder, Eli Johnson.

Johnson transferred to the university from Tacoma Community College, along with fellow alumnus pitcher Justin Simanek in 2019, after earning NWAC All-region honors.

Johnson spoke on his decision to stay at the university and play another season for the Lions instead of returning to his home state of Washington.

“In all honesty, the decision to return to play baseball was a very easy one because I absolutely love it here,” said Johnson. “I love baseball, and it’s all I know, so it was a very easy decision.”

The Chehalis, Wash. native shared what he hopes to improve on for the upcoming season with the Lions.

“I want to become more of a vocal leader this season, and I want to show the younger guys how a leader presents himself,” expressed Johnson.

Head Coach Matt Riser explained what type of role he would like to see Johnson have this upcoming season.

“We have a guy who has a year left of eligibility due to all of this COVID stuff and we talked about how he is a big energy giver for this team,” said Riser. “He does a fantastic job of showing up every day regardless if he’s playing really well or really bad, and it’s a sign of a good leader.”

Riser described Johnson’s versatility as a player and the multiple positions that he can play.

“Eli has multiple roles he can fill because he can really defend it,” shared Riser. “He could play third. He could also play second, and when the bat’s hot and rolling, he can get in there and be the DH in the lineup.”

Johnson shared his goal for the upcoming season and how he sees the team competing.

“I think we got a very talented squad this season, and we can go really far,” commented Johnson. “We got a lot of talent on this team, and if we all get on the same page, then we could easily win our conference and hopefully go on to play in Omaha in the summer.”