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Tioga County Sports Report
HERKIMER, N.Y. — Former Owego softball standout Michelle (Burrell) Johnston has been inducted into the New York State Softball Hall of Fame.

In addition to Johnston, the 14-member Class of 2021 includes two coaches and three other players from Section IV. The inductees were selected by the New York State Sportswriters and Coaches Organization for Girls Sports.

"It is an honor to be inducted into the NYS Softball Hall of Fame," Johnston said. "I am so grateful to all the people that have helped me through my softball career. Especially my family, who has always been there for me and supported me. I had amazing coaches that were always willing to spend extra time with me helping me become a better player. "

The 1997 Owego grad was named to the New York State Sportswriters Association Class B first team all four seasons. She continued her career at the University of Maryland, where she inked her name in the Terrapins' record book.

She was the Terps' top hitter her senior year and earned spots on the All-Atlantic Coast Conference team, Mid-Atlantic All-Region second team, Verizon Academic All-District II second team and the Terrapin Invitational All-Tournament team. By he time she graduated in 2001, the center fielder ranked first in doubles (40), second in games played (239) and games started (239), fourth in hits (183), triples (3) and runs scored (113), eighth in batting average (.236) and eighth in RBI (77). She was also one of five Maryland players named to the ACC 50th Anniversary Team in 2002.

Johnston became a successful assistant coach at Maryland before taking the head coaching job at the University of Rochester, where she became the winningest coach in Yellowjackets history with a .701 winning percentage over four years (2006-2009). She posted a 117-50 record, averaging a program-best 29.3 wins per season. Rochester went 28-7 in 2007, 32-12 in 2008 and 33-12 in 2009, and advanced to the NCAA regionals during her final two seasons.

Her accomplishments as a player and coach make Johnston a good role model for younger players to look up to — and she has some good advice to offer them.

"Play the game because you enjoy doing so and everything else falls into place. Don't worry about the recruiting and things that are out of your control. Work hard, be a good teammate, and keep following your passion — and it's okay if your passion changes along the way."

Also being honored from Section IV are coaches Steve Weber of Elmira Notre Dame's and Afton's Cindy Bostelman. The class also includes former Binghamton High School player Bridget (Baxter) Orchard, now the head coach at Villanova, Maine-Endwell's Nicole Osovski and Windsor's Kristin Waldron.

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