Jones named Gatorade North Carolina Baseball Player of the Year
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
The award is given in colllaboration with USA Today.
Jones, a transfer from Stillwater, Okla., led Watauga to a 15-11 record after the Pioneers got off to a 2-9 start. He played shortstop and pitched for the Pioneers, who won 13 out of their final 15 games of the season, including a victory over then No. 1 ranked Alexander Central.
Jones, who is 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, made his impact with the Pioneers pitching and at the plate. He finished the season with a 4-3 record, but also had an ERA of 1.23. He also had a save.
Jones had 63 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings pitched.
"It's a huge honor for him," Pioneers coach Pete Hardee said. "Obviously it's for the best player in North Carolina. He had some stiff competition from guys here and there."
Jones, the Northwestern Conference's Player of the Year, hit .461 with 11 home runs, which tied the Watauga record.
He also set a new Watauga standard with 43 RBI in a season.
Jones was walked 21 times, eight of them intentionally. He scored 31 runs, hit 11 doubles, had a .652 on-base percentage and a .987 slugging percentage.
Jones also hit two grand slams during the season, which also tied a team record.
Jones, who has signed to play at Stanford, carried a 4.00 weighted GPA. He is also a member of the National Honor Society.
Hardee said that Jones maintained his grades despite missing class to attend workouts for Major League teams in anticipation of the Major League Baseball First Year Draft.
"One of the things that may have pushed him over the top -- aside from of all his talent and his interest from pro scouts -- was his academics," Hardee said. "He's taken a lot of AP classes and it was hard on him because he had to miss a lot of school because of going to different places for workouts, but he did a great job with it."
Jones transferred from Stillwater when his father, Billy Jones, was named the new head baseball coach at Appalachian State. Ryder Jones' brother, sophomore Utah Jones, played second base for the Pioneers.
Ryder Jones is waiting to see where he will be selected in the 2013 Major League draft, which begins Thursday and goes through Saturday.