Prep Notebook: Is Herndon’s Jones Northern Virginia’s Most-Underrated Player?

April 17 - Mike Jones might be Northern Virginia’s best player you’ve never heard of.

Now you have.

Herndon’s senior third baseman hasn’t spent his summers trekking all over the east coast to gain exposure on the showcase circuit, opting instead to play in the local Babe Ruth League. In the fall, he was busy playing for the Hornets’ football team, earning first-team All-Liberty District honors as a wide receiver and kick returner and a second-team All-Region 6D nod as a returner.

After hitting four home runs en route to first-team all-district honors last spring, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Jones has picked up where he left off, slugging his way onto college coaches’ radars this spring. He entered today hitting .429 with five homers, 14 RBI and 19 runs for Herndon, who are 7-4 overall and 2-0 over its spring break trip to Orlando, FL. Of his 18 hits, 11 have gone for extra bases.

“Mike Jones is a great kid and has a bright future in front of him,” Hornets second-year coach Chris Metz wrote. “He is also a very coachable kid. Very quiet and goes about his business on the field.”

While the reserved Jones might prefer a low profile, his athleticism and muscular build strike comparisons to the program’s highest-profile alum, Brandon Guyer, another former two-sport star at the school who is now in his eighth season in the Major Leagues. Jones is able to dunk a basketball while standing flat-footed under the basket, and a quick search of football highlights such as this one demonstrate his agility and speed.

Now, finally on the recruiting radar halfway through is final prep season, Jones hopes to help the Hornets make a push for their first regional appearance since 2015 while continuing to improve his stock with college coaches.

Herndon resumes play in Orlando tomorrow against Brooks College Prep/Chicago International Charter-Hawkins.

Tigers’ Foursome Has Defending Region 3B Champs Rolling

No. 9 Brentsville District had winning streaks of eight and six en route to a Region 3B championship and a berth in the Class 3 state semifinals. The Tigers have carried that momentum into the 2019 season, winning their first nine games before yesterday’s 7-6 loss to No. 8 Stafford in the Eddie Hope “Let’s Play Two” Tournament semifinals.

Brentsville (10-1) rebounded to beat Rock Ridge, 5-2, in today’s third-place game and has now won 24 of 27 games since dropping four of five during a stretch in late March and early April last year. A big reason for its success this spring has been the pitching combination of senior Jake DeLisi and junior Vince DiMauro and a lineup paced by versatile senior infielder Billy Hoad and senior center fielder Luke Binsted, who transferred after earning second-team All-Northwestern District honors at Manassas Park in 2018.

DeLisi is 4-0 with a save and a 0.67 ERA with 32 strikeouts to five walks in 21 innings, while DiMauro is 4-0 with a save and a 1.85 ERA with 53 strikeouts and eight walks. The two right-handers combined for a no-hitter in a 4-0 win over Fauquier on Mar. 25, and also combined to hold Skyline hitless in a season-opening 11-0 win that was shortened to five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.

Meanwhile, Hoad is hitting .472 with four extra-base hits and 18 runs out of the leadoff spot and Binsted is hitting .436 with five extra-base hits and 12 RBI.

The Tigers resume play on Tuesday at Kettle Run.

Teams Navigate Early-Season Injury Bug

Injuries have plagued area teams that entered the season with high hopes.

Riverside, a preseason Northern Virginia Top 10 team after going 19-3 last year, will be without one of its top pitchers, senior David Setien, for the entire season with a labrum injury to his shoulder. After dropping their first five games, the Rams (3-6) have won three of four entering today’s game against Bishop England (S.C.) at the Hanahan Invitational Tournament in Charleston, S.C., and hope to get senior shortstop Carson Swank, a Yale recruit and member of the 2018 NOVA Nine Team, back at the end of the month as he recovers from a broken hand.

Fauquier, coming off a Class 4 state tournament berth, lost 6-foot-6, 225-pound right-hander Lane Pearson to Tommy John Surgery prior to the season. Pearson will pitch next year at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The same fate occurred for Bishop O’Connell’s Nick Liverpool, who will also miss his final prep season after having TJ before going down to play at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina next year.

Two Division I-bound players have also suffered minor injuries - O’Connell junior shortstop and right-hander Eddie Eisert (N.C. State) missed some time due to a hip injury and South Lakes junior shortstop Ryan Dooley (Virginia Military Institute) is out for a few games with a dislocated finger - and Potomac sophomore third baseman Dylan Heil, one of the Panthers’ top hitters this season, is out for at least two more weeks following hernia-related surgery last Friday.

Photo of Herndon’s Mike Jones by Patrick Mills