Coach of the Year: Mahomet-Seymour’s Mark Jones
Why: The Bulldogs (22-8-2) won their second regional championship in three years and put together back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in school history.
Season evaluation: “We had a great season this year. We accomplished many of the goals we set but came up short on the one: (the) state tournament. Our season started off in Tennessee coming in tied for fifth out of 32 teams in the Sarah Beth Memorial Tournament. We came home to a slow start due to weather and cancellations. We jumped right into the Corn Belt. We lost our first (2-1 to Pontiac) and last (1-0 to Olympia) games in the conference. We started playing some good ball midway through the season. The last two weeks we beat some good young teams, Monticello, Mount Zion and split with Peoria Notre Dame. We went into the regionals and beat two more good teams, Lincoln and Bloomington. Unfortunately, our season came to an end in the sectionals after two trips to Bartonville at the hands of a good Peoria Notre Dame team, 4-0. I look back on the season and realize there were very few games we lost we didn’t have a chance to win. Without the players and the other coaches, Coach Douglas, Coach Ellars and Coach Odle, this couldn’t have come about. Great season, great group of ladies and coaches to work with.” — Jones
A few of my favorite things: Butch Clark, who was a big impact on me pitching men’s fastpitch ... Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright ... St. Louis Cardinals and Illini ... My Dodge Ram P/U ... Any sporting goods store ... “NCIS” and “NCIS: Los Angeles” ... “The Natural” and “Hoosiers” ... Buffalo Wild Wings ... Walking beans ... Would like to visit Cooperstown (N.Y.) and the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Three things on my bucket list: Go to Hawaii, go to Europe and go to Washington, D.C.
About Coach Jones: “Coach Mark Jones has coached our high school softball team for many years and played softball for many more. He has been a positive influence on our team in so many ways. He is someone who really cares about his players and the general well-being of the team. He’s not in it for the money or the publicity. He’s in it for each and every one of his girls and the love of the game. He wants more than anything else for us to be happy, healthy athletes that are mentally strong and enjoy playing softball as much as he enjoys coaching it. Coach Jones is someone that is not only there for us on the field but off the field as well. If a girl is having a rough time, whether it be with softball, or something completely unrelated, he is willing to do everything in his power to help that girl out as much as possible. In addition to molding us in the finer points of softball, he also dedicates a couple days out of the season for team-bonding activities just to make sure that the ‘health’ of the team is OK. Overall, Coach Jones has used his love for softball, his skills, and his compassion for his players to create a team that I’ve been proud to be a part of.” — Mahomet-Seymour junior Alyssa Spoerer