Groveport Madison High School product Emma Johnson admitted she initially was perplexed when Kent State softball coach Karen Linder asked her this spring if she would be interested in continuing her pitching career professionally.

Groveport Madison High School product Emma Johnson admitted she initially was perplexed when Kent State softball coach Karen Linder asked her this spring if she would be interested in continuing her pitching career professionally.

Johnson, a 2011 Groveport graduate, was a four-year starter for the Golden Flashes, winning 60 games during her career.

"(Linder) approached me and said she had heard that I could possibly be drafted (to play professionally) and wanted to know if I was interested," Johnson said. "I had a lot of things to look into very quickly and try to determine if it was something I could manage. I had to find out how long the season is, how long the contract is for and just a number of things. But by the time I was drafted, I was ready to go."

Johnson was selected by the Pennsylvania Rebellion, based in Washington, Pa., in the fifth round of the 2015 National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) College Draft on April 1. She was chosen with the 25th overall pick.

The NPF is comprised of five teams in the Rebellion, the Akron Racers, the Chicago Bandits, the Dallas Charge and the USSSA Pride in Kissimmee, Fla., and the draft featured six rounds with a total of 33 players selected. An expansion team, the Charge had three additional picks.

NPF teams own a draftee's rights for two full seasons.

Headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., the NPF has operated since 1997, first under the name Women's Pro Softball League and then Women's Pro Fastpitch before switching to its current name in 2004. The NPF has been Major League Baseball's official developmental partner for the past decade.

The season opened May 29 and runs through mid-August, with each team playing 48 seven-inning games.

"Everything worked out well," Johnson said. "I wasn't scheduled to start my first job until after the season ends, so it won't be a disruption. Most women have full-time jobs but are able to work around them to chase a dream and continue playing the sport they love, so I knew as soon as I saw the schedule that I would try it this season and see how it goes."

Johnson said she will see what her first employer thinks when she begins working this fall for an accounting firm in Columbus. She majored in both accounting and finance, graduating with a 3.73 GPA.

Johnson said the Rebellion, which is in its second season, handles most of her playing expenses.

Through July 4, Johnson was 1-1 with one save and a 2.62 ERA in 37 1/3 innings. She has appeared in 10 games, making six starts.

"It takes awhile to adjust because of the quality of play," she said. "These are the most elite softball players in the nation. With just five teams, you have to be very, very good and on top of your game.

"Even in college when I pitched against some great teams, there were breathers in the lineup after the No. 5 hitter. That's definitely not true in this league. Every batter would be a (No.) 3, 4 or 5 in college."

Linder insists Johnson has what it takes to be successful in the NPF.

"I am so proud of Emma and just really happy for her," Linder said. "She worked hard over the last four years to become one of the best pitchers in the country and she really took it to another level this spring. She has a tremendous riseball that she can keep low in the zone, she knows how to set batters up and she can read what a batter is anticipating.

"She was one of two pitchers all year to shut out (NCAA Division I national runner-up) Michigan. She also shut out (South Florida) and they were (ranked) 15th (in the nation). Last year, she shut out Kentucky and they were one of the top teams in the (College) World Series (in 2014). She pitches her best on the biggest stage. She had the longest shutout streak in innings in the whole country this year. And as good of a pitcher as she is, she is an equally great person."

This spring, Johnson worked 40 consecutive scoreless innings and was named NCAA Division I National Pitcher of the Week on April 28. She finished 23-6 with two saves, a 0.95 ERA and 319 strikeouts in 205 2/3 innings.

Johnson had two no-hitters (against Michigan State and Bowling Green) and two one-hitters and ranked in the top five in Division I in ERA, shutouts, strikeouts, strikeouts per seven innings and hits allowed per seven innings.

She was named second-team all-Mideast Region and the Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Year for the second time and earned all-league honors for the fourth time. She also was a second-team Academic All-American.

"She is just a tremendous person and by far the best pitcher I ever worked with in all of my (25) years as head coach here," recently retired Groveport coach Steve Cunningham said of Johnson. "I think she may have been the best pitcher I ever witnessed in central Ohio. She was a strong worker who had the perfect mentality. She kept increasing her goals. First, it was to be the best pitcher on the team. Then, it was to be the best in the league, the best in the district and the best in the state. She kept pushing herself to the next level. She deserves this and I hope she enjoys it.

"The neat thing is that she came back and watched us play a few games this season. She knows she is always welcome here at home. Our girls were impressed that she took the time to come back and see us."

Johnson recorded 63 wins for the Cruisers, including 36 shutouts and 12 no-hitters. She was fifth in the state in career strikeouts (1,243) when she graduated.

"I am proud about being able to achieve all of those things and very happy to be given the opportunity by a bunch of great coaches and people to be able to do all of this," Johnson said. "I've been blessed by having a great family, tremendous coaches and good teammates and friends along the way. It's been very enjoyable."