FARMINGTON — Amy Jones went far away from the University of Maine at Farmington. Then she came right back.
Jones graduated from Cony High School in 2010 then spent her freshman year of college at UMF, making the Dean’s List in the fall and hitting .316 for the softball team in the spring.
Then Jones switched schools — to Armstrong Atlantic State University, a Division II college in Savannah, Ga. She spent one semester there, and now she’s back at UMF.
“I’m very family-oriented,” Jones said. “Being 1,200 miles away from family was really hard for me. I’m not gonna lie. I missed them.”
Jones’ return is a big boost for the Beavers, who hope to contend for the North Atlantic Conference softball title this year. Last spring, she led UMF in runs scored (29), home runs (four), on-base percentage (.395) and stolen bases (six).
“I think she has really a complete game as a hitter,” UMF coach Cyndi Pratt said. “People have to play her for her power game, but also, she’s fast enough to be able to bunt and do the small ball when we need it. She’s a very smart and aggressive baserunner. And she’s fast, too, so she has speed to go along with that.”
After playing mostly shortstop at Cony, Jones was UMF’s regular third baseman last year. This meant going from the relative safety of the middle infield to sometimes going into a crouch about 30 feet from the batter.
“It’s so different from anywhere on the field, because you have to have split-second judgment,” Jones said. “You’re either running in for a bunt, or there’s a ball coming right at your face — and it’s not coming slow. I like it. It gets my heart racing. I’m all about it.”
Jones committed 12 errors, but also made nearly three plays per game and showed quick reflexes and excellent range.
“To play third base in softball, you have to be fearless,” Pratt said. “If you’re scared, then you’re not going to be able to make the plays. She was able to make a lot of plays, and amazing plays. To take away other teams’ bunting game is very important in softball.”
Pratt is noncommittal as to where Jones will field or bat this spring, saying it’s still too early to tell until the Beavers get in some time outside. She expects Jones to play either third or short, and bat somewhere in the top three spots in the order. Jones, who batted leadoff last year, is unfazed by the uncertainty.
“I’ve always been that player — I don’t care where you play me, I just really want to play,” Jones said.
Jones also brings a competitive fire to the Beavers. That, like her decision to come back to Farmington, comes from her family.
“I grew up with two brothers,” she said. “It was always, ‘If you’re crying, Amy, you’re not playing with us. You gotta be tougher.’ They made me into the athlete that I am today.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243