Oceanside High of Rockland senior pitcher Chloe Jones will have an opportunity beginning next season to help rebuild the softball program at American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Jones, the 2018 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B Player of the Year, signed a National Letter of Intent to attend the NCAA Division II institution.
The Yellow Jackets, which play in the Northeast 10 Conference, haven’t had a winning season since 2010.
Jones, a right-hander, will receive a partial athletic scholarship.
“I really loved the feel of the campus,” Jones said. “Everybody there is nice. I stayed overnight with the team, and they’re all very nice.”
Jones, who said she loved first-year head coach Shalise Tolentino, intends to study exercise science.
At Oceanside, she has compiled a career record of 45-8 and is 3-1 this season with three shutouts, including a 20-strikeout no-hitter in a 10-0 win over Camden Hills.
The hard-throwing Jones has struck out 54 this spring, and she now has 540 strikeouts in her career.
Last season, she posted a 13-3 record to go with a 1.02 a year ago in leading the Mariners to a berth in the Class B North championship game for the second straight year.
The daughter of 11-time Maine Golfer of the Year Ricky Jones can also swing the bat and batted .444 in 2018.
Oceanside coach Rusty Worcester said he is proud of Jones and said her scholarship is well-deserved.
“She is the hardest working girl I have ever coached,” said Worcester, who is in his 19th season as Oceanside’s head coach.
“She has the best changeup in the state. It’s an incredible pitch. She throws it with the same arm speed as her fastball, but, at the last second, she turns her wrist over and nobody can see it coming,” Worcester said.
In addition to her fastball and a changeup, Jones also throws a curve, a rise-ball and a screwball, Worcester said.
“She has done real well with her velocity. She has probably gained another 4 or 5 mph over last year,” Worcester said.
Jones, who also plays soccer and basketball, works on her pitching in the winter and the summer months in addition to the spring season.
“She is really dedicated. Softball is her passion,” Worcester said.
“The bigger the game, the better she is,” Worcester said.
Jones, a team captain and leader, pitched three shutouts in the playoffs a year ago.
Worcester said Jones has taken it upon herself to tutor freshman pitcher Grace Pratt.
“It’s tremendous to see. She loves the game and wants to give back to her teammates,” Worcester said.
Worcester hopes Tolentino will give Jones the opportunity to swing the bat as well as pitch, and he feels she will develop into a great college player.
The American International College roster includes one Maine player, starting freshman shortstop Mackenzie Aleva of North Berwick, who played at Noble High School.