When the Harvard baseball team took the field this spring, all the talk around the league centered on the Crimson's hitting.
This, after all, was the team that batted a collective .351 in 1991 and returned all but two of its starters.
But as Red Sox faithful know, it takes more than hitting to win games. It takes quality pitching.
And the crimson looked to lefthander Sean Johnston.
Johnston answered the call, turning in the finest season of his Harvard career. The Kirkland senior went 4-2 this season, recording 61 strikeouts while posting a 3.10 earned-run-average.
"It's the best season I've pitched since I was here." Johnston says. "I felt pretty good and the guys supported me well this year."
For his performance, the pitcher earned an All-EIBL Honorable Mention and his teammates elected him co-MVP along with junior centerfielder Juan Zarate.
"The award that means the most to me is the MVP because it's something your teammates vote on," Johnston says. "Twenty years form now, you're not going to care about what you've got on your trophy shelf so much as knowing your teammates respected you and you respected them."
Johnston was the model of consistency this year on a Crimson squad that often was not. Though Harvard occassionally suffered from erratic batting, Johnston time and again came through with key wins and strike outs.
"I didn't have a lot of spectacular games, but I just went out and did the same thing game after game, which is what you strive for," Johnston says. "you try to be consistent. You don't want highs and lows."
Johnston's success stems from both mental and physical preparation. During the winter, Johnston worked out extensively with second-baseman Jim Mrowka and first-baseman Dan Scanlan (his roommates), lifting weights and running approximately three a day, five times a week.
When the season began, he carefully focused on the job at hand.
"I like to think about what I'm doing," Johnston says. "I pitch on Saturday, an then on Sunday we're playing other games and I'm not thinking about anything.
"But once Monday comes, the only thing that's on my mind is next Saturday. The minute I wake up I'm thinking about the game and what we have to do as a team to win it," he continues.
Johnston, of course, has a philosophy on pitching that can be easily summed up: Pitch to your strength.