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Cooper Jones thrilled to join childhood team

Baseball career has come full circle

Cooper Jones comes to the Red Deer Riggers this season with years of college baseball under his belt.

Now lining up for his hometown team at shortstop the 22-year-old hopes to make a difference for a team he once idolized as a kid.

“I’m finished college ball now. I always wanted to play for the Riggers growing up in Red Deer. I remember going to their camps early on,” he said.

“Now to get the opportunity is awesome.”

Last season Jones played for the Sylvan Lake Gulls of the Western Canadian Baseball League but before that, he travelled quite often through the college ranks.

Over a four-year span, he started out in junior college in Iowa before playing Division I at Illinois State. He then finished his college days in Niagara.

“I jumped around quite a bit but I’m done now. I’m starting work life but it’s good to get out here with the boys,” he added.

He grew up playing for the Braves but ventured out in his Grade 11 and 12 seasons to play for the Vauxhall Academy.

But now a new chapter starts for Jones who explained he always loved playing in Red Deer.

“I know a lot of these guys and same with the Gulls. Some of the Gulls will play with us this year too. For me, just staying in the baseball community has been great,” he added.

In terms of the skill level of the Sunburst League compared to the college ranks Jones said a lot of the players played at that level so there isn’t much of a drop-off.

“These guys aren’t staying in the best of shape,” he laughed. “It’s the same level but the compete level just isn’t quite the same… Guys know how to pitch in this league.”

On Tuesday night Jones helped the Riggers capture a 6-4 win over the Sherwood Park Athletics at Gulls Stadium.

The night before they were shutout 1-0 by the Calgary Diamondbacks on the road in a tight pitching matchup.

“Tonight we came out pretty strong. It’s still early in the season so I think we’re starting to get it as guys trickle in. We’re going to have a solid team this year,” Jones said.

“Coming off college career that was shaky hopefully I can play up to my abilities and add some talent to this team… I’m very excited for this season.”

The Riggers are now 2-1 to start the season with their next game on Tuesday, May 23 at Gulls Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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