Jake Parker was working out of state when he got the call.
“I was working on the pipeline when Jones College called me,” said Parker. “Coach [Kirtland] asked me if I would [join the team], and I said I would. It happened pretty much like that. [To me] it came out of nowhere.”
The former Stringer slugger, third baseman, and pitcher celebrated his opportunity to continue playing baseball Friday afternoon inside Stringer’s gymnasium with coaches, family, and friends.
“Jake had a few teams interested in him coming into last season,” said Stringer baseball coach Wade Weathers. “Of course, that got cut short. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and kept working in case we were able to come back and play.”
Parker was eight games into his senior season before COVID-19 shutdowns halted the season that eventually never returned.
"He's got a good head on his shoulders and kept working in case we were able to come back and play," said Weathers. "He kept a good attitude even after [the season was officially ended]. Late in the summer, he was given an opportunity by Jones College, and I'm happy for him. To lose his senior year and still get the opportunity to play baseball is something special."
Through those eight games, Parker hit .450 at the plate in 20 at-bats with nine hits, nine RBI, and four doubles. On the mound, he was 2-2 in four-game appearances. Parker struck out 23 batters in 14.2 innings pitched.
"It didn't feel great," said Parker of his senior season cut short. "I can promise you that. I was heartbroken, knowing I'd never play on Stringer's field again. I'm thankful that Jones has allowed me to continue playing the game I love."
Parker helped Stringer to a 61-42 record over the four years he was a starter, including a Class 1A state title appearance in 2018.
"My junior year was special," Parker said. "But every year was special, to be honest."
Weathers said Stringer’s success on the diamond while Parker was a starter was no accident.
"Jake has been a huge part of that success," said Weathers. "He has started for us since he's been in the ninth grade. He's hit at the top of our order, pitched, and played at third base since his ninth-grade year. This past season, he really took on a leadership role and came into his own on the mound. He and his brother were going to be our one-two punch later down the stretch as they were at the beginning of the year.
“He’s had a lot of success here at Stringer.”