RMA's Jones picks UNC-Wilmington
By PATRICK MASON
Friday, November 10, 2017
When Casey Jones signed her national letter of intent on Thursday to play softball for the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Jones made official an agreement that had been in place for a couple years.
The Rocky Mount Academy senior signed her scholarship a little more than two years after verbally committing to UNCW two days before the start of her sophomore year of high school. She had always wanted to go to the college, in part because of its proximity to the beach. And the college had wanted Jones for some time after following her progress ever since she stepped on campus for a summer camp.
“I always knew that I wanted to play in college,” Jones said. “It was one of those things where I fell in love with the coaches right away, they made me feel like family, and the school is close enough where my family can see me play and close enough for me to come home.”
Not long after she left that summer camp, both parties were interested in moving forward.
Jones plays a lot of innings at shortstop for the Eagles and has been a standout player for the school since she began playing on varsity. Jones had always been a solid player with a consistent bat and a reliable glove. But with only one more high school season left, Jones figured she had to take her game to the next level.
She trained year-round, fielding ground balls and hitting in the cage at an indoor facility in Rocky Mount. Jones also started lifting weights at least three times each week. All of that led to a breakout summer with her travel team.
Jones’ team, the Wildcards, won a national championship in Myrtle Beach this summer. Jones provided power in the linup by hitting 13 home runs.
“It was my best summer for sure,” Jones said. “I felt comfortable at the plate. I think it was just playing with an edge that came from practicing all year.”
Jones grew up in a competitive home. She said she would compete with her younger sister, Mary Whitaker, in just about anything they could turn into a game. Their relationship was built around sports, and each challenged the other to improve.
Mary Whitaker is in eighth grade and has already verbally committed to play softball at UNCW.
The sisters find themselves in a unique situation of not having to worry about the recruting process from year to year like most of her peers.
At this point in the year, the recruiting of young athletes heats up. Mostly, it’s seniors who are deciding at the final moment where to attend. Other times, athletes wait by the mailbox to see if any letters arrive.
Most notably, Northern Nash’s Isaiah Gay was snatched up by the University of Illinois late in the game this past spring after he had all but committed to Elon, before a whirlwind of letters poured in at the last moment.
Jones is happy to not have to deal with the insanity of college recruiting, and instead has been at ease knowing that her college plans were already laid out.
“I could just worry about my academics and playing softball,” Jones said. “I didn’t have to put extra pressure on myself to perform is someone was out watching me, or wondering if I’ll end up somewhere. It worked out.”
Jones has goals of working for the FBI after college, and will enroll in criminal justice classes next fall.