Travis Jones: The Worst Kind of Nightmare
Have you ever had one of those nightmares? You know the one. It's the worst kind. Everything is so real. No matter what it is playing the part of the villain, your heart beat rattles your rib cage. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! It can be a front door getting broken into. It can be growling coming up the steps toward your bedroom. You are stuck in pitch black and, for some reason, can not move. There's your heart again, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
The worst part is this: for a moment, you know it's a dream. You force your eyes open, make out the digital clock, the room – everything is safe. The moment you shut your eyes – BOOM –blasted right back into the same nightmare. As if the horror flick you were starring in was only temporarily paused. It picks up right where it left off, but terror only gets worse. The sweat bleeds through your skin. The sheets get annoying as you toss and turn, all the while knowing it's a dream – but you just can't wake up!
Travis Jones had a weekend like that – but he was the beast, not the victim. He was the relentless stalker who refused to go away. Every time the Florida baseball team thought they'd outrun him, he came back stronger than ever. They tossed and turned, even defeated him in between, but the monster would not go away.
Finally awake for real, Gator head coach Pat McMahon will probably check under his bed before believing the nightmare is finally over. He'll be searching for 5'9", 190 pound second basemen under his bed more specifically.
Had it not been for a fantastic comeback Saturday, the Florida Gators would have been relegated to nothing but rubble left behind the Travis Jones explosion. His statistics for the weekend were somewhat impressive – 9-for-12, .750, 5 HR, 7 R, 11 RBI. His OBP was a robust .770 and, this is the best statistic: no runners LOB for the entire series.
With Baseball America about to run a feature on Harris Honeycutt and other national outlets focusing on Justin Smoak – the small 2B from Lake City Community College in Ocala, Florida displayed one of the most unbelievable SEC weekends in the history of the SEC.
To add even more to the Hollywood drama, Lake City Community College is not too far from where Jones turned the trick. According to Florida Head Coach McMahon, it's only about 56 miles away. Ouch! That's got to hurt.
Through the giggle of a little leaguer, Jones was able to answer if he'd ever had a weekend like this, "No, sir. I never had a weekend like that in my life."
So, to use a cliché', is it safe to say the ball looks like a grapefruit, "Yes, sir." The laughter continues throughout the interview. He's jovial, but careful, because for the first time he experienced the dreaded re-occurring nightmare from the aggressor's side – not the victim.
As for Gamecock head Coach Ray Tanner, "Remarkable. He's a special player. Every single game, he's the same. 0-for-4, 4-for-4, he's the same. He maintains his level of awareness. 10-for-12, that's incredible!"
All of this in SEC play is, as Coach Tanner says – remarkable, but also keep in mind Jones was 2-for-3 with 2 runs and 2 driven in against Furman only a few nights before.
Breaking down his statistics before the explosion, then after...
Travis had played 29 games before the series. In 106 at-bats, he managed 27 hits, 23 runs, 15 RBI, 3 HR, and 7 steals. Jones batting average stood at a paltry .254.
Less than a week later, Travis is hitting .314, with 8 HR, 9 SB, 32 R, and 28 RBI.
Comparing him to other 2B in the SEC, Jones made quite a leap on the road in conference play. Not only is the 5'9", 190 pound middle infielder ninth in the SEC with a .603 slugging percentage, he's also tied for sixth with 8 HR, ninth in total bases and on the radar for All-American status. As far as the SEC is concerned, he's become the best 2B there is at this juncture.
Taking his new found offensive prowess into consideration, then combining it with a .988 FLD%, one could argue Jones is among the top two or three 2B in the country right now.
The Florida faithful can wake up now. Whew! The terrorizing nightmare is over. Rub your eyes; squint at the sun blasting through the blinds, Travis Jones is finally gone. Just, whatever you do, don't look under the bed...
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