Collinsville’s Jones joins Patton by signing with Snead State softball
COLLINSVILLE - Ever since they were four years old, Collinsville senior third baseman Aryelle Jones and senior right fielder/pitcher Mary-Katherine Patton have played ball together.
They’re going to continue doing so together in college.
Jones joined Patton in signing a softball scholarship with Snead State Community College on Tuesday. Patton signed with the Lady Parsons on April 26. The two will be roommates at Snead.
Jones is also the third Collinsville softball player to sign a softball scholarship within the past month. Senior pitcher Emma Barkley inked with Lurleen B. Wallace of Andalusia back on April 10.
“I’m just real excited about going,” Jones said of attending Snead State. “I’m blessed to have a good bat and the ability to play softball period. Not many people get this opportunity to go to the next level, but I have. It’s been my dream since I was eight years old.”
Lady Parson softball coach Tracy Grindrod is happy to welcome Jones into the fold at Snead. Jones has a whopping 14 home runs and over 80 RBIs this season heading into this weekend’s North Central Regional in Tuscaloosa.
“We’ve been watching her for a couple of years,” he said. “She’s been to a couple of our camps. We had her down about 18 months ago for a college visit and a campus visit. We got to know her a little bit, and we thought we had a pretty good fit.
“They (Jones’ family) just wanted to do a little shopping, which most kids do. They’re trying to figure out that college fit for them. We were real hopeful we were the right place for AJ, and it turned out we were. She came back to us and said ‘Coach, this is where I need to be. ’ I said ‘We think so too.’ I think she’s going to be a great fit. She’s got a great attitude. She’s a hard worker. She can hit and has a great glove at third base, which we really like.”
Grindrod also likes that Jones is continuing her softball career with Patton.
“It’s always good when you have two kids from the same hometown coming in and playing,” he said. “They kind of lean on each other getting used to the college life. That makes the transition a little easier for them because college life is a little tough, a little demanding. Being able to get away and come home and get that support when they need it is pretty critical to their success. AJ will fit that role pretty well coming in, and having Mary Katherine there as support is really going to help both of them.”
Collinsville coach James Coker thinks Snead will be a good fit for Jones too.
“They (Jones and Patton) have been best friends since kindergarten, and both of those girls are really close to home. They don’t travel much. I think it’s going to help both of them not only in softball but in school as well.”
Coker is certainly going to miss the power Jones brings the Lady Panthers at the plate. He’s hoping she ends her Collinsville career on a high note with a few more homers this postseason.
“She’s hit for power ever since she started in the eighth grade, and she’s been our home run leader each of those years,” Coker said. “She can hit an inside ball, an outside ball. She covers the plate well. When she’s swinging and her mechanics are right, she can hit it as far as anybody.”
But regardless of what the postseason brings, Jones has already left a legacy for other Collinsville softball players to follow.
“I’m going to miss my teammates (at Collinsville). We grew together and created a bond,” Jones said. “Me and Mary set real good examples for them. We’re always there for them. We just pick them up when they’re down. I tell them every at-bat just make it count, and make every play count. If you make a mistake, just flush it and go to the next play.”