NORMAL — Evan Jones isn’t sure if he will be a pitcher or hitter in the future.
But he does know he will be playing his college baseball at a different school than he originally intended.
Jones, who allowed one run and struck out five in four innings for the Ground Sloths in Kernels Collegiate League play Wednesday at the Corn Crib, is no longer headed to Western Kentucky and will instead attend junior college powerhouse Wabash Valley in Mount Carmel.
“It was just the coaching change, that’s about it,” Jones said of parting ways with Western Kentucky. “The connections the (Wabash Valley) coaches have there are really making me excited about another four-year (college) or maybe even the (MLB) draft.”
A key component of University High’s recent stellar teams, Jones is both hitting (.313 average in 16 at-bats) and pitching in the KCL. He plans to continue doing both in college.
“Right now, I’m throwing hard, but I want to hit as long as I can. I really like hitting,” said Jones, an outfielder. “If I come out of juco as a really good pitcher, starting hitting my spots, the off speed comes, that will be the thing I probably do.”
Jones is among many KCL players who are using the league as a transition from high school to college ball.
“I think it’s really good,” Jones said. “There are a lot of good pitchers in this league.”
Along with Jones, fellow graduated U High seniors in the KCL include Chase Adams, Jake Swartz, Jack Bach and Matt Armstrong.
The KCL is providing a proving ground for players who are headed to Illinois State and Illinois as well as other recently graduated Intercity standouts Gage Wolfe, Brady Alexander and Eli Hensley.
“It gives both sides of a great experience,” said Bobcats coach Jake Wegner. “The college guys can mentor the young guys. The young guys get to see the veterans and what it’s like to play college ball.”
Wegner has Hensley and incoming ISU freshmen Thomas Harper, Shai Robinson and James Duncan on his roster.
“They’re facing guys who have been in college two or three years,” Wegner said. “But the guys on my team, they’re just ballplayers. They show up, play the game hard and don’t really care who the competition is.”
Here are a few other notes from a Wednesday in the KCL.
Auggie Rasmussen, an outfielder who is transferring from Iowa Western to ISU this fall, continues to lead the league with a lofty .511 batting average (23 of 45) and also paces the circuit in RBIs with 19 for the Bobcats.
“He has ‘slowed down’ a little bit,” Wegner joked. “He seems to have a hit a game at least. He always finds his way on base and goes and gets it in the outfield.”
Bobcats break loose
Wegner’s Bobcats improved to 9-8 with a 9-4 victory over the Ground Sloths (10-7) in Wednesday’s first game on the strength of an eight-run sixth inning.
Highlights of the game-deciding outburst were a two-run Alec McGinnis single, a two-run Bubba Mote triple and run-scoring hits from Hensley, Duncan and Dan Mosele.
Five runs, no hits
The Merchants improved to 10-7 with a 12-5 triumph over the Blue Caps (5-12) in the nightcap.
A five-run Merchants’ first inning featured no hits but took advantage of five walks, three wild pitches, one error and a hit by pitch.
Wolfe had two hits and scored twice for the Blue Caps.
Contact Randy Reinhardt at (309) 820-3403. Follow him on Twitter: @Pg_Reinhardt