Husson University pitcher Jen Jones delivers a pitch in their NCAA regional softball game against Endicott at O'Keefe Softball Field on Friday, May 21, 2021. Husson won the game 12-4. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Husson University in Bangor already has one of the best softball pitchers in the region in McKenna Smith, who transferred this season from Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire.

Now the team has regained the services of three-time North Atlantic Conference Pitcher of the Year Jen Jones.

Jones, a graduate student, wasn’t on the roster at the outset of the season as she is finishing up her degree in the demanding physical therapy program. But she joined the team early this month and now supplies the Eagles with a formidable tandem in the pitching circle.

Jones was 14-1 last season with two saves and a 1.21 earned run average. In addition to being named the NAC Pitcher of the Year and a first team all conference selection, she was chosen a third team NCAA All-Region selection for the second time and was the Most Valuable Player in the NCAA Division III Regional held at Husson’s O’Keefe Field.

She is also a four-time NAC All-Tournament team selection.

“I was hesitant coming back because I wasn’t sure where I would be after my clinicals and with my boards exam coming up,” Jones said. 

“I ended up going to a game to watch it and it felt so strange to be on the other side of the fence, knowing I could be in the dugout cheering on my teammates. When the opportunity presented itself, I couldn’t pass up another chance to be with the girls,” said Jones. 

This is righthander Jones’ fifth season. She received an extra year of eligibility because the NCAA awarded student-athletes an extra year as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smith was Husson’s only pitcher with experience at the start of the season as Tatyanna Biamby is a freshman and junior Jill Bisson had been primarily used as an infielder.

Husson University coach Diann Ramsey said Jones’ return gives her pitching rotation “balance” and it also supplies the Eagles with valuable depth.

Jones, a native of Acton, went 2-1 in the regional last spring with a sparkling 1.09 ERA. Husson went 2-2 and lost to Tufts in the championship round 1-0. She allowed 16 hits over 19 ⅓ innings and just three earned runs, all in the tourney-opening 12-4 win over Endicott. 

In her second tournament outing, she tossed a four-hit shutout to beat Brandeis 2-0 before allowing an unearned run in the loss to Tufts.

She was also productive at the plate, hitting .417 with three runs batted in and two runs scored.

Jones made her season debut on April 9, throwing four innings of two-hit shutout ball in an 8-0 four and a half-inning 8-0 win over Northern Vermont-Lyndon.

She has made five appearances, three starts and two relief outings, and is 5-0 with an 0.64 ERA. She has allowed 11 hits in 22 innings with 30 strikeouts and 10 walks.

“Being a part of the team again has been a great way to relieve stress in my academic life. Husson softball is the greatest support system I could ask for,” Jones said.

Old Town’s Smith, meanwhile, was recently named the NAC Pitcher of the Week for the fifth time this season and the fourth time in a row.

Smith recently broke the school record by striking out 18 hitters in a 9-0 win over the University of Maine-Farmington.

Smith, a junior, is now 12-2 with two saves and an 0.76 ERA. Her 0.76 ERA is eighth best in the country among 400 Division III schools. She has struck out 171 in 92 innings and walked just 23. She has allowed only 44 hits and one homer.

Her average of 13 strikeouts per seven innings is third best in the nation.

Gorham’s Biamby has appeared in nine games and is 1-3 with a 3.54 ERA and Gardiner’s  Bisson has pitched in four games and is 2-0 with a 1.02 ERA.

Husson is 20-6 overall and 7-0 in the conference and is riding a 12-game winning streak.

The Eagles have six regular season games remaining beginning with a Saturday doubleheader at Thomas College in Waterville beginning at 1 p.m.

They will play a non-conference doubleheader at Bowdoin on Sunday at 1 p.m. before concluding the regular season with a pair at UMPI on Saturday, April 30, also starting at 1 p.m.