When Easton Jones heard his options for playing summer baseball, he said it was an easy decision. Jones, who is beginning his first season at UNC-Asheville after two stellar campaigns at Brunswick Community College, said when he was offered the opportunity to play for the Asheboro Copperheads, he jumped at the chance.
“I was given some options on where I would like to play and the Asheboro Copperheads were the first thing that popped in my mind,” said Jones, a 2016 graduate of Eastern Randolph High School, who will be a member of the Coastal Plain League Copperheads this coming season. “Growing up in that area, I thought it would be really cool to play for my hometown team. Compared to summers in the past, this is the most excited I have been – to be able to play in front of my friends and represent my family and the Asheboro Copperheads.”
It certainly wasn’t the first major decision Jones had to make concerning his baseball career. Jones first had to decide where he would begin his collegiate career after graduating from ER. While at ER, he finished his four-year varsity career with a batting average of .405. He had 100 career hits in high school to go along with 64 RBIs, 29 doubles and nine home runs. He was the team MVP during his junior and senior seasons.
While there were other options, he elected to go the Junior College route with Brunswick Community College, one of the top Division II Junior College programs in Region X.
“They had a lot of returning players and I had to wait for my chance,” Jones said about being redshirted his first season. “I did have other options, but I felt going to a good program like Brunswick would give me the chance to put my name out there. I felt if I could do what I was capable of doing, I knew I could play somewhere. I thought going to Brunswick would be a really good experience to learn from.”
Sitting out a year wasn’t easy. But Jones said he learned some valuable lessons.
“I felt like I matured more as a person and physically and mentally understood what it takes to play at that level,” Jones said. “I was able to get familiar with the program. I worked really hard and put
in a lot of effort. After a year of sitting out, I was ready to come in fully prepared ready to make a statement.”
He did just that.
Jones had two impressive seasons at Brunswick. Jones hit .400 as a redshirt freshman. In 40 games, he was 44-for-110 with 37 runs scored, 10 doubles, six home runs and 36 RBIs. He stole five bases and had an OBP of .500. As a redshirt sophomore, Jones hit .296 in 46 games. He was 47-for-159 with 40 runs scored, 15 doubles, three triples and 12 home runs. He knocked in 59 runs and stole eight bases in guiding the Dolphins to a 40-11 record.
“We are excited to see what Easton can bring to the table for us in 2020,” Asheboro Copperheads General Manager and Head Coach Keith Ritsche said. “It’s always great to have local talent on the squad and even a bigger bonus that he can really swing it with the bat. His college numbers the past two years have been impressive and we have heard nothing but good things about him both on and off the field.”
So did UNC-Asheville, which recruited Jones heavily.
“What stood out about him for us is that he is a middle-of-the-lineup hitter,” UNC-A baseball coach Scott Friedholm said, adding it was a difficult transition for Jones at first during fall workouts, coming from a Division II Junior College to a NCAA Division I program. “He had a tough time adjusting to everything, a
new school, a new coach, new teammates. But the second half was really good. He’s getting comfortable. It took some time.”
Jones said when he took his recruiting trip to UNC-A, he loved the university.
“In the latter half of the season, a recruiter came to one of our games and laid out a plan for me to visit,” said Jones, adding he received plenty of interest from a number of other schools, including N.C. A&T, North Greenville and Mount Olive. “I fell in love with the university and getting a degree is something that will help me in the future.”
Jones, who is working for a degree in Management in order to get into the sales of medical equipment, agreed with Friedholm that it took a while to adjust to UNC-A.
“I had to get an understanding how much work off the field there was going to be,” Jones said. “This was like a job and I had to focus on me as a whole, not only baseball and academics. I would be sitting in class realizing this wasn’t going to be easy. This has changed my perspective. It’s not
just a game. I am here to get better as a player and better as a person.”
Friedholm said he has already seen a lot of improvement with Jones.
“Defense, he’s making a lot of strides,” Friedholm said. “”He has improved on his footwork in small places.”
Now, Jones seems ready to take advantage of this opportunity.
“I can’t ask for anything better than this,” Jones said. “To get an opportunity to play at this level. It’s great.”
– By Dennis Garcia, Asheboro Copperheads General Manager