ASHEVILLE, N.C. – UNC Asheville baseball coach Scott Friedholm has announced today the hiring of Jonathan Johnston as an assistant coach with the Bulldog program.
Johnston comes to Asheville after a successful three-year stint at Division II power UC San Diego. As the team’s hitting coach, he helped lead the Tritons to the California Collegiate Athletic Association tournament championship this past year. Johnston’s hitters led the CCAA in batting average (.294), runs (376) and walks (278). UCSD finished with a 38-16 overall record and advanced to the West Regional title game.
“Our school, the baseball program and the Asheville community are fortunate to have someone with Jonathan’s ability,” declared Friedholm. “He is one of the hardest-working coaches in college baseball and his offensive strategies are excellent and will be a real asset to our program. I look forward to welcoming Jonathan and Angela to the Asheville community.”
While at UCSD, he served as the program’s recruiting coordinator and worked with the hitters, catchers and baserunners. He was also the Tritons' third base coach.
In 2012, Johnston's instruction was instrumental in UCSD's offensive success and the all-around improvement behind the plate as the Tritons won their fourth successive CCAA regular-season and tournament titles. The 2013 season was the 10th straight in which UCSD produced a winning overall record. The Tritons were second in the league in extra-base hits (126) and led for the second year in a row in stolen bases.
Following a two-year hiatus from baseball as an officer in the United States Navy, Johnston returned to spring training with the Oakland Athletics in March 2011. He started the 2011 season as a catcher for their Class A Advanced affiliate Stockton Ports in the California League, hitting .318 with a .423 on-base percentage.
In 2008, Johnston's first season of professional baseball, he batted .228 for the Class A Kane County Cougars (Midwest League) before being called back to service with the Navy.
Over his four years as a Surface Warfare Officer, Johnston served on the guided missile frigate USS Curts and the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu as Damage Control Officer and Gunnery Officer, respectively. He was awarded three Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medals (NAM) and a Joint Service Achievement Medal. His first NAM was awarded for his efforts as the officer of the deck in the thwarting of a Somalian pirate attack against the Singaporean merchant vessel, Gem of Kirikae.
Johnston was a four-year starter behind the plate for the Navy Midshipmen from 2003-06. In his senior season, he batted .317 with 51 runs, 27 RBIs and 35 stolen bases. His leadership of the team and pitching staff resulted in one of the biggest turnarounds in Division I baseball history.
Johnston earned a Bachelor of Science degree in ocean engineering in 2006 from the United States Naval Academy and finished his naval career as a lieutenant. He later completed a master's degree in sport leadership in 2013 from Virginia Commonwealth University.