Lynchburg, Va. -- When Lucas Jones stands on the dais in Drysdale Student Center Friday night, he won't be thinking about baseball.
Sure, the third-year University of Lynchburg baseball coach will be in the middle of his Lynchburg Sports Hall of Fame induction. But for Jones, the epitomical family man, will be looking into the crowd at those who helped him get there -- and those who have come into his life since his days as a Hornet baseball standout.
"Honestly," the 2005 Lynchburg graduate said, "the thing I'm most excited about is to share those moments with my family and with my teammates."
Jones cemented his spot in Lynchburg's hall of fame long ago. He was an All-America first baseman for the Hornets in 2005, a season in which he collected a school-record 77 hits, and hit in the middle of the most productive lineups Lynchburg's baseball program has ever written onto a card.
Jones also wrote his name into the record books in other areas: he ranks second in career batting average (.426) and fourth in career hits (193) as well.
But the story of Jones' baseball success didn't start on Fox Field each February.
Long before he transferred from Division II Lenoir-Rhyne to Lynchburg, his hometown school, Jones developed the work-ethic that took him to those heights.
"He was probably one of the hardest workers that I've played with," former teammate and fellow hall-of-famer Anthony Palmisano said.
Palmisano and Jones formed the right side of the infield for the first Hornets team to reach the 30-win plateau in 2004.
Jones came to Lynchburg as a sophomore who had always played shortstop, but he quickly adapted to the first base position. His inexperience never showed, Palmisano said.
"It was probably all the work that he put in when no one else was watching," he posited.
That group gelled in part because the guys grew up playing with one another. Jones, Chris Knowles and others were products of Lynchburg's Heritage High; Palmisano and fellow LC legend Ronnie LaBrie went to nearby Staunton River; another recent hall of fame inductee, shortstop Shawn Abell, went to nearby Brookville. And there were many other Lynchburg-area ballplayers who contributed.
"There was a pretty long stretch when there weren't a lot of local kids who were playing at LC," Palmisano said. "I don't know if it was just that, 'We're playing at home,' mentality. We all got along really well, too. I guess that came from knowing each other."
For Jones' part, Lynchburg's success during those years -- the Hornets never lost more than 15 games in his three seasons playing for the program -- came in large part because of the stellar high-school baseball talent in the area at the time, something he hopes to rejuvenate as he settles in as Lynchburg's head coach in this era.
This is the sixth in a series of features on the 2019 Lynchburg Sports Hall of Fame Class, which will run on LynchburgSports.com the week leading up to induction at the Lynchburg Alumni Awards Dinner, Friday, Oct. 18 in Drysdale Student Center.