Justin Jones’ steady approach helps him reach 200 career hits

On March 31, Georgia State shortstop Justin Jones secured his 200th career hit against the Troy Trojans, but he still remembers his first collegiate hit vividly. It was a challenge that required Jones to be patient and relentless to overcome.

“I didn’t get one my first game,” Jones recalled. “I remember opening day my freshman year, I think I went Ofer, so I didn’t have a single hit. But I think my first at-bat my second game, I hit a ground ball past the third baseman for a double down the third base line. I remember it well.”

Four years later, Jones is still practicing the same techniques since he registered his first hit. However, he did mention that his routines vary depending on the opponent. But Jones also gives credit to the coaching staff who have contributed to him being second on the team in hits (39) and tied at first in doubles (8).

“For me personally, I think one thing for me that has been big is developing a routine,” Jones said. “I have certain things I like to do each game and going through those to make sure I’m comfortable and I got the swings that I need.”

Jones also said that there are a variety of drills that he implements into his routine, although he preferred not to discuss what those drills are precisely. Nonetheless, he has the same mentality once he steps into the batter’s box.

“There’s a ton of different things really, but it depends on the situation,” Jones said as he explained his approach to every at-bat. “Obviously, I’m trying to do whatever my team needs from me that at-bat, whether it’s get a runner on, get on base, draw walks, see some pitches— whatever it may be. I try to just do my job, and that’s kind of our offensive mentality, is do our job and pass it to the next guy.”

Jones has undoubtedly performed well thus far and has a batting average of .312. In fact, head coach Greg Frady has considered it an advantage to have a player such as Jones in his lineup and ultimately a part of the ball club.

“Right now he’s seeing the ball good,” Frady said. “We’ve always believed in him as a hitter always had confidence in him as a hitter, and right now he’s really on his game. It’s like having a coach on the field, and to just see him hit, it’s like a complete package.”

Perhaps what makes Jones such a prolific offensive player is the fact that he is able to withstand a slump at the plate. Great offensive players have the ability to remain poised and focus on making fluid contact with the ball, and Jones is the epitome of a skillful hitter.

Not to mention, he is also patient at the plate. Jones leads the team in walks with 23 on the year, and his on-base percentage is currently .438.

“For me, it comes back to just trusting your preparation,” Jones said as to how he remains composed as a hitter. “I’m my best when I’m thinking ‘hit the ball into the opposite field.”

Jones is listed at 6-feet tall and 180 pounds, which is not considered massive by any means in baseball. Furthermore, he does not believe his size affects him at the plate. He actually feels as if his size motivates him to perform at a higher rate offensively.

“Not really,” Jones said. “The American League MVP in the big leagues last year is 5-foot-6, so I mean I think a lot of times bigger guys do have an advantage but that’s the beautiful thing about baseball, you don’t have to be the biggest, strongest guy, you don’t have to be the fastest guy. So yeah, that’s one of the reasons why I love the sport.”

Jones has a unique hitting ability and has a knack for reaching base. So, who does his hitting style resemble in the MLB? Well, Jones likes to think of himself as a student of the game and enjoys studying multiple player’s offensive attributes.

“For me personally, I think it’s kind of about knowing my ability and knowing my strengths,” Jones said. “I like to watch guys like Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman, two infield guys who aren’t necessarily the biggest or strongest, but they do a great job of really handling the bat and being able to hit to all fields. So, I have a lot of similarities to guys like that.”

As Jones embarks on what has been a prominent college baseball career, he took time to reflect on the accomplishment of surpassing 200 career hits— one that he was unaware of until he received multiple texts and calls informing him about the achievement.

“When it happened I didn’t even know until after the game,” Jones said. “My phone was kinda blowing up a little bit, which is awesome. That’s really cool, I’m sure a ton of guys would love to get to that mark, and that’s a really special thing to me. I have to give credit to my coaches. Not just my coaches here but my coaches in the past.”

Jones is in his final year at Georgia State, but it has undoubtedly been a grand slam of a career for him.