When Brianna Jones said she doesn’t care about her numbers, she isn’t being politically correct. It’s just who she is.
So, it’s understandable that Southern Illinois University’s senior pitcher didn’t celebrate wildly when she broke Amy Harre’s career wins record last week. Jones picked up her 85th win last Tuesday with a relief win over Southeast Missouri State.
“Honestly, I didn’t know it was going to happen,” Jones said. “I didn’t think about it. I don’t even know what my numbers are. I guess it’s a big deal because that is what everybody says. It’s nice, I guess.”
Harre was a first-round draft choice of the Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch League and the 2005 Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year.
And, the 85 wins? That’s averaging more than 21 wins per season.
“I don’t know any numbers,” Jones confessed. “As long as we win, I’m fine, whether I’m pitching or not.
“I was talking to someone about it the other day. There are three things to win a game, it’s offense, defense and pitching. I’m only one of those three things.”
That isn’t an act. That is the real Brianna Jones.
“She is the most humble person in the world and she’s such a great teammate,” said SIU coach Kerri Blaylock. “Her only care or concern is that she does well for her team.”
Jones doesn’t like to talk about her accomplishments. That works – the numbers speak for themselves.
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The Tennessee native is currently 18-6. She won 23 games as a freshman, 18 as a sophomore and 26 last season. She currently has an ERA of 1.85 and has never been above .240 in her career. Her WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) is 1.07 this season, it was 1.02 as a freshman and a career high 1.18 last year.
Opponents have never hit more than .240 against her. Jones currently has 104 strikeouts this season. She had a career high 211 whiffs last year, but with stronger backup this season she will pitch fewer innings.
With 10 games remaining in the regular season, the MVC tournament and possible postseason play, Jones has a chance to put the record out of reach.
“It would take another special person to come in behind her,” Blaylock said. “When you have an Amy Harre you don’t think you’ll have anybody as good as her.”
There are some similarities between Jones and Harre. Both were overpowering. Harre threw 70 mph, Jones is just a shade behind at 68.
“She is a power pitcher who has morphed every year to give herself another pitch,” Blaylock said. “That’s what you have to do in the Missouri Valley Conference.
“When she has meltdowns it’s because she feels like she is not at her best. Her statement at the beginning of the year when she had a rough game, ‘I don’t want to let anybody down.’ Her goal was to have a great senior year, and so far she has.”
Both Harre and Jones were effective as freshmen. Blaylock said she had no qualms about handing Jones the ball as a freshman.
“With her it was OK because she had that right kind of personality,” Blaylock said. “She had won two national championships at 14U and 16U. Think about that. To me, she had already pitched and played in some very big games. It was easy for me to put her out there.”
Although seemingly unflappable in the circle, Jones admitted putting a bit more pressure on herself this year.
“Now, I feel more stressed out this season because it’s my last and I want to do my best,” she said. “My first three years, I was like I have another year. I feel like I have a lot more time, but it is quickly coming to an end.”
“I’m going to cry like a baby when she leaves,” Blaylock said. “I develop special relationships with my pitchers. Her and I are very close and will always be.”