By Jocelyn Martinez
All serious athletes know the adage “practice makes perfect.” Dedication, hard work and persistence will always help in the long run — just as they have for Palm Beach Atlantic University’s senior softball pitcher, Ashley Jones.
Jones’ outstanding accomplishments have been recognized and honored not only this season, but also many times over the past four years.
“It is awesome to see her hard work paying off,” Head Coach Kimmy Bloemers said. “She deserves every single award and positive recognition.”
Although PBA is relatively new to NCAA Division II, Jones was recognized as a National Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 22-28. The award was a first for PBA athletes.
In addition to this achievement, she was also awarded the NCCAA National Player of the Week, an honor she also received during her sophomore and junior years.
Jones was at first unaware of the magnitude of her achievement, but feels blessed to have received the award.
“At first I did not realize what it was, but after talking with my coaches I found out,” said Jones. “I was very humbled and excited to be the first PBA athlete to have received this award.”
Jones is certainly not a new face to PBA’s softball team or to the sport itself. She has been playing for PBA since she was a freshman, and playing the sport since she was 8 years old. It was not until her sophomore year at Jensen Beach High School that she realized she wanted to pursue the sport in college.
The Player of the Week award is an addition to the numerous honors Jones has received during her college career.
All-Region Honoree, All-American First-Team selection honor, and All-Region Team are just a few of the awards and honors she received.
She was also named the Independent Collegiate Athletic Association (ICAA) Pitcher of the Year and a member of the ICAA First-Team for the second consecutive season during her junior year. The NCCAA honor this year is the second of the season for Jones and the sixth of her career.
In 2009, Jones led the PBA softball team to their first NCCAA National Championship, ending the season with a record of 22-9.
Jones also holds school records for wins in a season, complete games played (27), shutouts (10), saves (3), innings pitched (223.2), and strikeouts (281).
“She is an awesome athlete, but more than anything she is an incredible person,” Bloemers said. “I couldn’t ask for a better senior captain to lead this team.”
Not only does this star athlete juggle softball practices, games and training, but she is enrolled in a senior seminar at PBA, majoring in elementary education and student-teaching at Lighthouse Elementary in Jupiter, Fla.
Student-teaching forces her to wake up every day at 5:30 a.m. Each day of the week begins early for Jones and ends late, with practices and workouts for the team. A glance at her schedule only proves how dedicated this player is.
The accomplished pitcher thanks her head coach Kimmy Bloemers for helping in her success.
“She is so supportive and excited for me,” Jones said. “[Since I student-teach] she would work with my schedule. I would drive to games and sometimes even arrive late to practice. She was very helpful; she will do anything for the girls.”
Jones’ fourth and final season looks promising, but she does not plan on playing after college.
“I’ll be done once I graduate,” said Jones. “I’ve had some great years playing softball and I am going to miss it, but this is it. I plan on going into coaching.”
Her team will certainly miss Jones, but will remember the success she helped them acheive.
“I will be very sad when she graduates,” Bloemers said. “But I know she will bless more people in the future.”