R-H’s Jones shines in Va. Commonwealth Games

Published 7:41 am Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Randolph-Henry High School baseball program had representation at the 2016 Virginia Commonwealth Games as rising senior shortstop Joshua Jones competed among other Virginia standouts in mid-July at Liberty University.

The Commonwealth Games website described the baseball competition as an all-star event, adding that “the top 15-17-year-old high school players in Virginia will represent four regions of the state in an eight-game playoff. College coaches and Major League scouts are invited to see the best players in Virginia.”

All high school players who are rising seniors and younger were encouraged to enter their name in the selection process.

“Your high school coach puts you up for it, and then you go to a tryout, and it’s like a bunch of players from all the high schools from the Central (Virginia) area, and they all try out and they pick a team from that,” Jones said.

For the purposes of forming four teams for the Commonwealth Games, the state was divided into four regions: North, Central, East and West. Each region had a tryout.

Jones, who has tried out for the Commonwealth Games in the past, has developed a reputation that precedes him, as Statesmen Head Varsity Baseball Coach J.R. Allen discovered.

Allen had already planned to recommend Jones, but the Central team coach, Bill Pelot, reached out to him before he had done so.

“I got an email from him wanting to know if (Joshua) was going to come to the tryout,” Allen said.

After helping the Statesmen win the conference tournament and reach the regional semifinals this season, Jones attended the Commonwealth Games tryout at Powhatan High School in June and made the Central region team at shortstop, his primary position at Randolph-Henry.

The Central team went 2-2 during the Games, finishing in second.

“It was a lot of fun,” Jones said of the overall experience of playing in the Games. “On and off the field, (I) made a lot of new friends. (I) also played with some of the kids I knew anyway, so it was just a lot of fun. A great experience.”

Central defeated the West team 5-1 on July 15. On July 16, Central lost 7-1 to the North team and topped the East team 10-3. In the gold medal game on July 17, Central fell 8-3 in a rematch with the North.

“It was a lot of great competition,” Jones said. “All the teams were good.”

He was pleased with his own performance, getting some timely hits to drive in runs on offense. And on defense, he was far from idle with many balls coming his way.

“It was a lot of action, probably more than I even got the whole high school season, actually,” he said.

Hearing of Jones’ good defense and timely hitting, Allen said, “That was him all year for us.”

Jones plans to take a break from baseball for now but is expected to be a leader for the Statesmen next year.