By Shawn Wansley
Jones Sports Information Director
ELLISVILLE – Two Jones College baseball players will be playing senior college ball in Louisiana.
Pitcher D.J. Alexander (Gretna, Louisiana) signed with Northwestern State and outfielder Trace Henry (Mooreville) signed with Louisiana-Monroe Thursday in the McClellan Hall Media Room.
Bobcat head coach Chris Kirtland is pleased Alexander and Henry will have a chance to continue their careers.
"We are super proud of both of these guys to be taking the next step and knowing where they are going to be going next year," he said. "But there is still some work to do here at Jones this year and it will be a fun ride."
Alexander transferred to Jones from Southeastern Louisiana at the start of the 2018 season. He posted a 3.80 earned run average. In 21.1 innings pitched, he allowed nine earned runs, walked 16 and struck out 25.
He will be joining head coach Bobby Barbier and the Demons of the Southland Conference at the end of the 2019 season.
"When I went on my visit, it felt like a very good place for me," Alexander said. "I like the coaches a lot and the players. It just felt like a good place to stay for two years and just have fun."
Kirtland said Alexander will play a vital role for the Bobcats in 2019 and will be a bright spot at Northwestern State.
"D.J. is a strike-thrower and he's left-handed," Kirtland said. "He is going to get us a bunch of outs and every coach wants one of those kind of guys."
Henry started every game for Jones as a freshman, posting a .399 batting average. He batted leadoff, led the team in stolen bases with 39 and runs scored with 60. He had 11 doubles and two triples. He was named second-team All-MACJC in 2018 and looks forward to playing for head coach Mike Federico, a former Southern Miss player and assistant coach.
"Coach Fed is a really great coach at ULM," he said. "I am excited he gave me this opportunity to go there and play. Our coaching staff here has a good connection with Coach Fed and his coaching staff.
"I am excited about what they are doing and what they are building over there. I'm happy to get this opportunity to play at the highest level of college baseball."
Kirtland said Henry is a very talented ballplayer.
"Trace is a threat on many different angles on the baseball field," he said. "He is going to steal bases for you and steal base hits defensively. He is going to score runs. But he is also going to hit the ball off the wall and over the wall, too. Every coach wants that kind of player and we are glad he is on our side."
Both Alexander and Henry have enjoyed the time they spent on the Jones' campus so far.
"I came here last year halfway through the year, but I felt at home right away," said Alexander. "I've really enjoyed everything since I've been here and I've made a lot of friends and met a lot of new people."
"It's been great," Henry added. "Jones has become like my second home. I'm three and a half hours away from my actual home. My coaches, my teammates – you cannot get any better than the guys here at Jones. I can't say enough about what Coach Kirtland has done for me as a person and as a player."
The Bobcats were 38-11 in 2018 and qualified for postseason play for the 10thstraight season. Both Alexander and Henry are looking for more success in 2019.
"I'm very excited to see what the future holds, but I'm ready to play this season," Alexander said. "I just want to see what we can do. We've been working very hard and doing a lot of stuff to get better. I feel like we have a very good chance of going a long way."
"I am excited about it and I'm looking forward to it," said Henry. "I think we are going to be really good like always. Jones has a good tradition with baseball. I think we will have a really good chance, just like every year."
Kirtland said the Bobcats had a solid fall practice and are doing well in offseason workouts. But he was happy the whole team could gather for Thursday's signing ceremony.
"Now that we are done with fall practice, it slows down a little bit," he said. "These guys are spending a lot of time in the weight room and conditioning, doing offseason development work. This was a chance for us to get together and honor two guys that have earned something and a chance for us to show our support and celebrate them."
The Bobcats open the 2019 season at home on Feb. 12 vs. Coastal Alabama-Brewton.