06/28/2016 8:35 AM -
Whiting, Ind. – June 28, 2016 – When Zack Jones walked into the Oil City Stadium clubhouse on Monday, he was both the newest member and the longest-tenured member of the Oilmen all wrapped into one.
A change in Jones’ summer plans and the opening of a spot on the Oilmen roster coincided, leading to a reunion between the team and the right-handed hitting catcher. Jones makes team history in the process, becoming the first player to appear in three different seasons.
“It’s great; I’m excited,” Jones said. “It’s always great to be back at Oil City Stadium, and I’m excited to be playing live baseball again. Last year was a blast. We always have fun in the dugout and playing for Enright is always a good time.”
Jones, who plays for Enright (assistant) and former Oilmen manager Justin Huisman (head coach) at Trinity Christian College, added a new skill to his repertoire this season. He plays primarily catcher and some first base, but his list of positions received a new addition during the spring.
“One day, one of our position players was supposed to throw an inning, and he said his arm was hurting, so I was like, ‘Hey Huisman, let me chip in,’” Jones said. “I went to the bump and got a strikeout, fly out and a weak single. He was like, ‘You’re our new closer.”
Jones was named to the all- Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference after contributing to the Trolls success on the mound, behind the plate and at the plate. He compiled a .385 batting average, second on the team behind Tyler Sroczynski. Jones also racked up 53 RBIs to share the team lead.
On the bump, Jones nailed down nine saves in 23 innings, going 1-1 with a 1.96 ERA with 35 strikeouts and eight walks.
Jones is expected to see time out of the Oilmen bullpen in addition to being used at catcher, first base and DH. He went hitless in his Oilmen debut as he navigates the transition back to facing live pitching after a month and a half away.
Another challenge is working with a pitching staff comprised of mostly hurlers Jones has never caught before.
“I remember last year trying to catch Enrique Zamora for the first time and letting two passed balls go by,” he said. “I’m just going to try to get to know them and see what their tendencies are and figure it out as I go.”
Jones hit .253 in his first season with the Oilmen in 2014, then raised his average to .313 and drove in 24 a year ago. He hopes to take another step in the right direction as he gets set for his senior season at Trinity Christian.
“I’ve changed a lot in my swing, so I really want to nail down a lot of the new movements,” Jones said. “Two weeks before the spring season started, I revamped my whole swing. I really want to work on those things and get more athletic in the box."