Whether it was while playing with the Evans High School squad or for her Determinators traveling team, fastpitch softball player Heather Jones was all business.
"We were at an exposure camp in Tallahassee, and one of the coaches there mentioned her presence on the field," Determinators coach Des Kayea said. "Heather knows what she wants to do, and she does it."
The slugging first baseman is known for working hard and playing hard, but last week she showed a softer side.
As she prepared to sign a letter of intent to attend Georgia College & State University on a softball scholarship, Jones was overcome with emotion.
"I couldn't have done this without my teammates, coaches and family. Thank y'all," she said in a halting voice at the Evans Media Center.
Since she was 11 years old, Jones has had her sights on playing softball in college. With that ambition finally fulfilled, her first thoughts were of the people who had made it all possible.
A witness to the signing ceremony whispered, "That's the first time I've ever seen Heather cry."
Jones quickly regained her composure and signed her paperwork to officially join the Division II program. Then she formulated her plans to one day make Peach Belt Conference foe Augusta State University shed some tears.
"I'm looking forward to beating ASU, and I don't mean that in a bad way," she said.
Jones is simply accustomed to winning. She has been a starter at Evans since her freshman year, an helped the Lady Knights advance to the state tournament four straight seasons.
During her senior campaign at Evans last fall, Jones hit .361 with 24 RBI, and 13 doubles. She batted .452 with runners in scoring position and had a .542 slugging percentage.
While Jones earned Most Valuable Offensive Player honors with the Lady Knights last season, she also was handy at first base, where she notched a .993 fielding percentage, with 144 putouts seven assists and only one error.
"She's a very good fielder, with good hands and a very good work ethic. She loves having balls hit to her, and takes pride in her fielding," Evans coach Colette Cassedy said. "I'd almost say she's a better fielder than hitter, but she hits well, too."
Jones hopes her well-rounded ability will help her land a starting spot with the Bobcats next season.
"I'm planning on it. The coach told me I was their No. 1 pick; I took that as a good sign," she said. "If not, then I'll work my way up. I'll do whatever it takes to play. I love the game, and I don't care how much work I have to do."
With the signing, Jones has joined the crowd - teammates Adrienne Daniels, Melody Johnson and Allison Foster have all signed with college programs, and Ashley Hale is planning to sign with Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.
"We deserve it," Jones said. "We've worked really hard."
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