Northern Illinois junior Alex Jones was named one of 25 Division I quarterfinalists for the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award by the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
Sponsored by Mizuno, the yearly award is presented to the country’s best shortstop Sunday, July 3, in Lubbock, Texas, as part of the College Baseball Hall of Fame’s Night of Champions.
Of the 15 conferences represented on the list, Jones is the only one from the Mid-American Conference.
“This award is a great award,” said NIU head coach Ed Mathey. “It’s something that has been relatively new on the horizon, but they’ve done a great job of promoting it down in Lubbock at the College Baseball Hall of Fame annual awards ceremony in July. This is a tremendous honor from a tremendous organization.
“For Alex to be one of the top-25 guys speaks volumes to the type of year he is having. This type of year is not only good for Alex, but good for Northern Illinois baseball. There’s still some plays that need to be made this year and hopefully Alex continues to play well and can keep making the cut as they dwindle the list down.”
Jones, a 5’11”, 185-pound native of Kansas, is on pace for a career season.
Through 46 games, he is hitting a career-high .356 (68-for-191) with a .384 on-base percentage and career-best .518 slugging percentage. He also owns a career-high .964 fielding percentage.
The 2011 two-time MAC West Division Player of the Week honoree already has established several other statistical career highs with 68 hits, 15 doubles, five triples, 39 RBI and 99 total bases. He also leads the team in multi-hit games (22), batting average, hits, RBI, doubles, triples, total bases and defensive assists (122).
Jones has been a paramount factor as to why, standing in third place in the MAC West Division, NIU is in prime position to qualify for the MAC Tournament for the first time in two years.
With seven regular season contests remaining, he will keep adding to his career season as he is hitting his stride down the stretch. Over his last 13 games, he is hitting .519 (28-for-54) with a .526 on-base percentage, .722 slugging percentage, 12 runs, seven doubles, two triples, 16 RBI, 39 total bases and two steals.
As of May 9, Jones ranks first in the MAC in hits, second in RBI, third in triples, fifth in total bases, doubles and batting average. Among the NCAA leaders as of May 8, he ranks 36th in triples and 73rd in hits.
Seeing a Huskie represented on a prestigious watch list is nothing new as of late. Just over two weeks ago, Jones’ teammate Kyle Glancy was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association midseason Stopper of the Year watch list.
Concerning the Brooks Wallace Award watch list, Jones is the fourth Huskie in six years to be recognized. Prior to the award being given to shortstops only since 2009, former NIU first baseman Scott Simon (2006-07) and pitcher Andy Deain (2008) were recognized on the watch list as well.
“I think it speaks well about our program and how it gets viewed on a national basis,” Mathey said. “Playing the schedule and teams that we do gives us a great opportunity to play against great programs and get exposure to the people who put these types of awards together. That exposure helps us out and is something we plan on continuing.”
The Brooks Wallace Award is a dedication to the memory of the former Texas Tech player and assistant coach.
Wallace was a slick-fielding shortstop at Tech from 1977-80. A four-year starter, he was named All-Southwest Conference and All-District VII his senior year. He led the Red Raiders to their first appearance in the Southwest Conference Tournament in 1980.
After playing two years in the Texas Rangers organization, he returned to Texas Tech and served as a graduate assistant and later as an assistant coach. In the summer of 1984, he was diagnosed with cancer and fought the disease courageously until his death March 24, 1985, at age 27. The Plano, Texas, native was married to the former Sandy Arnold, and they had one daughter, Lindsay Ryan.
With class finals this week, Jones and the Huskies have no midweek games before hosting Ball State in a three-game MAC West series this weekend. The games are slated for 3:05 p.m. Friday, May 13; 1:05 p.m. Saturday, May 14; and 1:05 p.m. Sunday, May 15.