Wauwatosa West's Austin Jones rakes in the honors
Is NOW Newspapers All-Suburban Player of the Year
Wauwatosa West senior Austin Jones had just unloaded a fastball to a Pius XI hitter during the WIAA sectional semifinal game July 15 at Brookfield Central.
"Wow," said Lancers coach Jeff Bigler, looking at the radar gun. "He threw that one 92 (mph)."
When told what the gun said, Tosa West coach Chad Mateske said "Really?"
Jones had a way of leaving people almost speechless this season.
He was full of surprises this year, the latest being named the 2013 NOW Newspapers All-Suburban Player of the Year — a few weeks after having earned the same All-State honor from the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association.
He also earned unanimous first-team All-Woodland Conference pitcher honors, recognition that comes from a combination of both divisions. He was also named the Player of the Year in the West Division and unanimous first-team All-Division pitcher.
Jones carried his high-level play into the postseason, pitching a complete game against Mukwonago in the regional championship. He struck out 15 hitters in his two playoff games, ending his season with a 4-2 loss to Pius XI in the sectional semifinal.
He fanned 131 batters in 80 innings, with a 0.70 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, nine complete games, four shutouts and a 9-3 record.
During the season, Jones outdueled Josh Serio of Whitnall, Blake Fleischman of Germantown, David Tsolak of New Berlin West and Reed Timmer of New Berlin Eisenhower.
He gave up only four earned runs in conference play with 13 walks and 101 strikeouts. He went 7-2 in conference play with a 0.46 ERA and 0.66 WHIP.
"He shut out state champion New Berlin West which coach Tom Farina said he doesn't think has happened in close to 10 years," Mateske said. "He pitched against every team's toughest pitcher in our conference as he helped us earn a tie for the Woodland Conference championship."
Jones was a double threat, also playing center field. In the playoffs he was 5-for-11 (.455) with two doubles and four RBIs. For the season, he batted .451 with a .520 OBP, scored 21 runs and drove in 26. He had 11 doubles, a triple, two homers and 10 stolen bases.
Batting in the clean-up spot, he hit .423 in conference play. He had 11 multi-hit games and boasted a nine-game hitting streak at one point. He drove in 14 runs in conference play (driving in a run in 14 different games).
Jones hit .500 in non-conference games, which included contests against Nicolet, Germantown, Whitefish Bay, Brookfield East and Homestead. He also had three assists from center field as most teams didn't bother running on him because they knew his arm from pitching.
"He definitely worked on hitting this off-season," Mateske said. "He gained more power; he was a smarter hitter. He understood he didn't have to pull everything and he crushed the ball the opposite way."
Jones was more excited about what his team did this year, though, than his individual honors. The Trojans won (tri-champs) the second conference title in school history.
"We had a great year," he said. "We accomplished most of the goals we went out to do. We know we could have gone farther. But it was a great year. We learned a lot and had fun. We changed the way people looked at Tosa West."
Jones was also pleased that his hard work paid off, but he was also ready to credit his teammates.
"I was really happy with the way I played," he said. "Especially because of the work I put in. I had a good season, but my success was helped by a group of guys behind me that made plays in all the close games we played.
"I was happy with the way I played at the end of the year."
Jones will take his fastball, circle change and slider/curve ball with him in the fall to the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater.
He also credited pitching coach Jack Ward, the Woodland Conference assistant coach of the year, and Mateske for his success.
"Coach Ward was huge with helping me," he said. "We had a good relationship the last two years. Not only with pitching, but all parts of the games. At times he will get on you, but it was to make you better.
"He showed me how to manage how I think. The little things were so important and he deserved that award."
Jones can be emotional at times and Mateske played a big roll in helping him focus.
"For me, some things that I struggle with are mental," Jones said. "Coach (Mateske) has helped me not to let things get to me. He said, 'Look, bad things happen; just move on. Focus on the next pitch, the next at-bat.' I've stressed for years, without him, I would not have become the pitcher I did.
"As a coach, he helps us all with the mental side of the game. On days we are tight, he makes it fun and keeps us loose, which has contributed to our success as well."
Jones was among the senior leaders on the team, along with JJ Belknapp, Mickey Morgan and Ben Zachman.
"We have a lot of leaders," Mateske said. "In our post-game discussion, (Austin) had good thoughts and was often the first to speak. It was a neat thing.
"Some guys with his talent could be full of himself, but with him, that is not the case."
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