Almost everything Brianna Jones did this past softball season can be classified as her best.
The former Central High School Lady Raider and current member of the Southern Illinois Salukis set single-season career best marks in wins (26), innings pitched (232) and strikeouts (211). Yet, for her, it still didn’t seem like the best season.
“I went through this rough patch where I got in my head and all I could think about was the bad it seemed like,” explained Jones, who helped lead the Lady Raider softball team to the state tournament during her time at Coffee County. She graduated in 2015.
“I guess it wasn’t that bad, it just felt like it.”
That mental hurdle didn’t seem to do any damage to Jones statistically. She went 26-8 for the Salukis during the 2018 season, setting a career high win mark and also a career low loss mark. Her 232 innings were the most for her as a collegiate pitcher and she recorded 211 strikeouts, 83 more than she had as a sophomore in 2017 and 53 more than she recorded as a freshman in 2016.
SIU went on to finish 31-22 for the year, 12-12 in conference play.
High school to college
With three years of collegiate softball under her belt, Jones has a solid grasp on the differences in the sport on the high school and college levels. For her, it’s about playing smarter. (Continue reading this story below)
“I play smarter now, knowing what to throw to batters and things like that,” explained Jones. "In high school I didn’t have to really work that hard. I threw it and it was fine. In college I have to put in the extra work. I have to know who I’m pitching to … I have to pitch now more than just throw.”
“For school, learning how to study and manage my time was the biggest thing.”
Jones, who is pursuing a major in dental hygiene, has a schedule that rarely lets up.
During the offseason, Jones wakes up at 5:45 a.m. to workout, has school, practices and studies.
“Sometimes I have clinicals and I do those at 7 a.m. so I do my clinicals and then go work out on my own.”
She lifts weights for about 45 minutes each day during the season (for about 90 minutes in the off-season), pitches for approximately 20 minutes three to four times a week during the offseason.