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Oak Hill's Jones signs with Davis & Elkins

Apr. 6—While she's still got one more spring of high school softball to complete, Oak Hill High's Halee Jones has her sights firmly set on her post-secondary plans.

Jones, a senior, signed Thursday to enroll at Davis & Elkins College and become a member of the school's softball squad.

"I started playing ball when I was 10 years old, and it means a lot to see that the work I put in has paid off, and that God really blessed me with this path that I'm about to go on," Jones said after signing in the school gym before a crowd that included family, friends, teammates, coaches and school administrators.

"I've always wanted to (take it to the next level)," she added. "It's weird because I used to say 'I want to play college ball, I want to play college ball.' But, obviously it was a dream, and now it's came true. I'm very excited to play, and I'm excited to continue putting work in towards this."

At Oak Hill, Jones has played primarily catcher, but also plays in the outfield and at shortstop some for the Red Devils, and she is in her fourth year in the starting rotation. "Catching is definitely my strong suit," she said.

Jones also played varsity volleyball at OHHS. She made all-state teams in both sports, and, she added, "I'm excited to see what I can do this year in softball."

She plans to major in exercise science for four years, then attend PT school.

"Oak Hill has taught me a lot," Jones said. "My softball career has definitely had its ups and downs. I hope to have a good hitting level this year.

"My coaches, everyone has been very nice with me, and they've taught me a lot, not only on the field but off the field, like I've learned respect and different things like that. So, shout out to my (softball) coaches Amanda Hildebrand, Jerry Willoughby and Galen Branch ... and (volleyball coaches) Shawn Dempsey and Stacey Carroll."

To compete at the collegiate level, Jones says, "I need to put in a lot of work on the hill and gain some speed, but I also need to keep with my footwork and keep with my working out and staying in shape. My dad definitely has helped me a lot, as well. Just continue putting in work. I have to act as if I don't have anything."

Of her goals for Elkins, she said, "I hope to gain playing time. Going in as a freshman, I know it's going to be a little bit harder, as I'm going with a team that has a lot of people from California, Mississippi and things like that. So, I definitely have to (maintain) the leader voice that I have here and carry that on to Davis & Elkins and just show that I am a good athlete and I do deserve this spot. Hopefully I can bring some good hits and good field and make good friendships and continue to have that leadership that I have now."

Jones' head softball coach at Oak Hill High, Amanda Hildebrand, said the player has been a solid mainstay in her two seasons of coaching the Red Devils.

"Last year was my first year as head coach and really working with Halee, and Halee immediately was the leader as an 11th-grader," Hildebrand said of her captain. "She was the leader on the team.

"She also mentors our girls, so she's someone that I look to as our leader for the past two years."

"Halee is one of the top batters in our Coalfield Conference, and she's also a great catcher, one of the best, in my opinion," the coach added.

Of her pending time in Elkins, "Like she said, she's going to need some hill work, she's going to have to keep working out, keep getting better, just like all of us," Hildebrand said. "But, I think her inside work is great. And, she's a great athlete, and athletes aren't just athletic, but her leadership skills, the respect (which she wants to see out of her players)."

She called Jones "outwardly great and inwardly great, also."

The key for her, Hildebrand said, will be for Jones "to keep the same attitude she has and with her work ethic working out, staying athletic."

"I'm so proud of Halee, and honestly I can't wait to take the team up there to watch her," Hildebrand concluded. "I'm going to miss her tremendously. We all are going to miss her, but I'm proud of her going on to further her softball career."

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