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SNOW HILL — Aniyah Jones prefers to let her bat do the talking on the softball diamond.
“I’m kind of quiet,” the recent Greene Central graduate said. “I’m not a very social person, so I feel like I need to work on that a little bit when I go to college.”
However, the offensive approach for the 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference Player of the Year is far from introverted. She ended her senior season as the Lady Rams’ leader in batting average among everyday starters, hitting .632 with 34 RBIs, 10 doubles, three triples and five home runs in leading Greene Central to a 15-7 record and an 8-4 showing in the ECC. Taking into account the number of times opponents sent Jones down to first base via the intentional walk, her on-base percentage mushroomed to .691. She’ll now take her potent bat from one set of Rams to another as she signed a letter of intent with Winston-Salem State University of the NCAA Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
“I felt like I was part of a family there,” Jones said. “Because here it’s like a family. Yeah, (WSSU) is bigger, but it’s still small and I feel like I can be part of the family there.”
Jones considered attending UNC Greensboro, Louisburg College and East Carolina to pursue her intended nursing major. Of those three, only Louisburg offered athletic money.
She will reprise her catcher and outfield positions at Winston-Salem State, which finished 13-26 overall and 9-7 in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association under veteran head coach LaTaya Gray.
“She got several intentional walks this year,” Greene Central head coach Kim Jones said. “At critical times, too. So she was outstanding offensively.”
The willingness of opponents to pitch around Aniyah, the daughter of Ronald and Candice Russell of the Browntown community, was a sore spot at times.
“It was kind of hard at first when people kept walking me,” she said. “At first, I was like it’s cool, I’m walking. But when I wanted to contribute to the team, being walked kind of sucked. But I just knew it was because I was a good hitter and they were scared of me.”
She assures WSSU coaches won’t have much to do in the way of maintenance.
“They’re getting a very self-motivated, ambitious player,” Aniyah said. “I’m going to strive to do my best for whoever is coaching me.”