“I flashback every now and then,” Jones said of playing at Hixson Park. “We talk about it every once in a while. I can still see plays that happened in that game. I definitely have a little nostalgia sometimes. It’s nice. There are a lot of memories on this field.”
While there are plenty of good memories from that championship run, Hopkins and Jones, along with Reed graduate Sydney Jones, have made plenty of new memories with the Wolf Pack. The 2010 graduates of their respective Rail City high schools have helped guide Nevada to a 27-19 record overall and a 7-5 mark in the Mountain West, a mere half game out of the conference lead.
A large part of that success may be from the choice to stay close to home at Nevada.
“I know for me, staying here and playing here was my biggest decision as far as continuing softball and going to school,” Sydney Jones said. “I think it means the world to all of us to have our parents here. I think we all grew up playing where our dads were our coaches and our moms were our biggest supporters. So it means a lot. We have people just in the community that have watched us play since our freshmen year in high school that still come and watch us.”
Karlyn Jones, who spent a year at the University of Pittsburgh before transferring to Nevada and now leads the Pack with 15 wins from the circle, can testify to the difference it makes having loved ones in the stands.
“You go away, especially that far and it’s not easy to get people out there or to come back home,” she said. “It’s a lot different. It’s definitely a lot nicer having family here and having people here to watch you. It was a big part of my game just because I’ve always played at home. It was definitely hard when I left. So I love being back home. It’s definitely a big plus.”
Playing at Hixson Park is a home field advantage for the trio in more ways than one as the benefits of staying close to home carry over after the game as well.
“Even off the field, it’s nice to know they’re here,” Hopkins said. “We’re close to our families, so if we ever needed them, we know we could go and see them. Even if we’re just having a bad day, we can go see them and just brighten our day.”
Along with the added bonus of having family there for support, playing at Nevada has also provided the girls with a familiarity on the diamond.
“My experience has been really positive,” Karlyn Jones said of her time with the Wolf Pack. “A big part of it is a lot of the girls that are on this team, I’ve played with since I was 8. The biggest thing I can appreciate with this team is we’re such a big family. We can always go to each other. We always have fun with each other no matter what we’re doing, on the field and off.
“It’s very different when you come back home to something and it’s comfortable and it’s something you’re used to. You know what you’re going to get out of everybody every game. You just have that comfort with them on the field. You know you have strength behind you and in front of you at the plate. It’s just a great feeling.”
Hopkins echoed the sentiments.
“We know what we’re going to get out of everyone,” she said. “I think that’s a big thing. We’ve played against each other and with each other, so just being able to have that confidence in one another is that much stronger. It’s amazing.
“It’s just a different confidence level that I don’t think I would have if I were playing somewhere else. You’ve grown up with the people around you and your family is still here. If you go away, you’re kind of playing for yourself and your team, but you’re not really playing for your family. Even now, I still want to make my family proud. So I think it’s just a different feeling knowing your family is still there for you at the games. You know that they’re there and they’re there for you.”