College softball

What's all the buzz about? Jones makes pitch for Yellow Jackets, of course

Down road, American International College teammates will try to keep up with the Joneses
By Ken Waltz | Feb 05, 2019
Courtesy of: Jones family Oceanside coach Rusty Worcester, left, Chloe Jones, middle, and Jones' dad, Ricky, as Jones signs her national letter of intent to play softball at American International College in Springfield, Mass. Jones signed her letter of intent on Feb. 3 at Edge Academy in Portland.

Rockland — After three electrifying high school seasons on the diamond, there has been plenty of buzz about where Oceanside's Chloe Jones might showcase her impressive softball prowess at the next level.

Come to find out, the "buzz" was especially accurate because Jones, a senior, will take her fastball, change-up, dropball, riser and screwball to help the Yellow Jackets build a future nest of wins.

On Sunday, Feb. 3, Jones, a hard-throwing, 5-foot 4-inch, right-handed pitcher, signed her national letter of intent to attend American International College, a liberal arts institution, in Springfield, Mass. She signed her letter on Sunday at the Edge Academy in Portland. Jones will receive a partial sports scholarship to attend the school.

AIC is a Division II school of about 1,500 students which plays in the Northeast-10, an association of 16 NCAA Division II colleges and universities located in the New England states and New York. Shalise Tolentino is the head coach of a squad that finished 8-31 in 2018.

"I chose AIC because after looking into bigger universities, I knew that a smaller campus would be a better fit for me," Jones said. "After visiting the campus, I fell in love with it, and that love only strengthened when I did my overnight visit, and practiced with the team. I really clicked with not only all the girls on the team, but also with coach Shalise, and that's when I knew that AIC was the school for me."

Jones is about to embark on her senior year in the circle for the Mariners and has been a pivotal cog in the team's continued quest for Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B and and Class B North dominance.

This coming spring should be no different.

What Jones, who also plays soccer and basketball, has accomplished on the softball field is remarkable, given she did not take up work in the circle until middle school, when she attended a clinic held by coaches Rusty Worcester and John Frye.

Apparently, she turned out to be a somewhat natural pitcher.

She slowly but surely has made herself into one of the most productive and successful high school softball pitchers in Maine.

In three seasons, Jones has compiled 486 strikeouts and 113 walks. She has helped the Mariners compile a 50-7 record in her tenure. As a pitcher, she is 42-7.

As a freshman, she was 13-1, as she allowed 24 earned runs in 87 innings, along with 39 walks and 128 strikeouts and a 1.931 earned-run average. As a sophomore, she was 17-3, with 15 earned runs in 134.2 innings, 45 walks and 207 strikeouts, with a 0.78 ERA. As a junior, she finished 13-3, with 16 earned runs in 110 innings, with 29 walks and 151 strikeouts, with a 1.02 ERA.

Her offensive skills in the batter's box often get overlooked because of her dazzling work in the circle, but she has batting averages of .329, .371 and .444 in her three seasons, with 66 hits (18 doubles, 5 triples, 2 home runs), 37 RBIs and 16 runs.

While coach Worcester loves her all-around game, he said Jones has become a pitcher, with the emphasis on the word pitcher, one who can throw all her pitches for strikes, which is easier said then done.

"Chloe has worked extremely hard at her game," said Worcester, a member of the Midcoast Sports Hall of Fame. "She is the most dedicated player I have coached. She goes all over the state and out of state to play in the summer and plays in domes in the winter. She has developed into one of the best pitchers in the state of Maine. Other players and coaches have said, “She has the best change-up in the state.” And I would truly agree with that statement as well. I have coached undergrad all stars and have listened to other players in the dugout say 'watch this, watch her change-up, it’s the best.' "

Worcester said Jones, who has earned many league and state softball honors, has been a "huge" part of the Mariner program. "In softball it starts [in the pitching circle]. She has continued to improve each year and I expect her to have another outstanding year this spring. Her composure on the mound and her ability to not let [team fielding] errors or mistakes bother her is tremendous. And the best trait I love the most is her ability to step it up another notch for the big games. The bigger the game the better she likes it."

The veteran leader added, "Chloe and I talk about one thing every year. We want to win the gold ball, or I should say now, the gold glove [signifying state champions]. We have lost in the [regional] finals the last two years and we would love to be there again this year."

Jones said her three years of high school "we have had great seasons. It's been nice to receive the individual accolades, but I'm more concerned about the team goal of winning a state title."

Worcester, on hand at Jones' letter-of-intent signing on Sunday, said he has high expectations for Jones in her final high school season and then four years of ball at the next level.

"At the college level she will develop into a very good pitcher as well," the coach said. "She has the tools to do it. It will be difficult and she will have to work extremely hard, but I believe she will do it. It’s a big step. She will be facing very tough and talented hitters every game. Your not going to throw the ball by these hitters so she will have to continue to mix up her pitches and keep them off-balance."

"I really enjoy softball and I'm excited that I'm able to continue the sport I love at the next level, and I believe that Rusty and all of my other coaches have given me the tools to succeed," said Jones, the daughter of Ricky and Christianne Jones of Thomaston. Ricky is one of the most successful amateur golfers in Maine history.

"I’m so proud of Chloe and her hard work," Worcester said. "She loves softball and it shows. Congrats to her and her chance to play at the next level. I am now an AIC Yellow Jacket fan."

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