Hard-working Pioneer Jaye signs to play baseball at VMI

Posted: November 14, 2013

Millbrook baseball player Jacob Jaye gets a hug of congratulations from classmate Mackenzi Steele after signing a letter of intent to play baseball at Virginia Military Institute Wednesday. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — If you choose to continue your education at a military school, there’s no question that a strong work ethic is a must.

To hear Millbrook baseball coach Brian Burke tell it, Jacob Jaye should fit in pretty well at the Virginia Military Institute next year then, because that’s all he’s ever seen from the Pioneers shortstop.

With about 100 classmates, friends and family looking on Wednesday at Millbrook High School, Jaye signed his letter of intent to play baseball on a partial athletic scholarship next year at VMI, an NCAA Division I school that competes in the Big South Conference.

“J.J.’s a hard worker. He always has been,” said Burke, who will enter his fourth year as Millbrook’s head coach in the spring. “He’s been the face of our program for quite some time.

“He leads by example. He’s there to mentor other players. We’re excited for him and obviously for our program to have a Division I signing.”

Jaye — who hit .368 with 12 RBIs as a junior for the Pioneers after hitting .410 with 22 RBIs as a sophomore — said VMI first became interested in him after seeing him play about a year ago.

He said the interest from the Keydets became more serious though when they saw him play in a showcase tournament that VMI hosted in Lexington this summer while Jaye was playing with his travel team, the Richmond Braves.

Jaye got a chance to speak with VMI coach Marlin Ikenberry and the rest of the coaching staff during that competition.

Jaye said there wasn’t anything unique that happened in that showcase. He just showcased the quality he prides himself on.

“What I try to do when I play is play hard,” said Jaye, who posed for photographs with Burke, his parents James and Christy and younger brother Nathan, a freshman at Millbrook, Wednesday. “Every time I take the field, I want to give 100 percent, and I think that’s something they saw when I played.”

Burke said Jaye also gave strong consideration to going to VCU, but Jaye said VMI was definitely the best fit. The Keydets went 20-35 overall and 6-18 in the Big South last year, but they had five winning seasons in six years from 2006-11.

Jaye actually gave VMI a verbal commitment after they offered him a scholarship about two weeks before he took his official visit earlier this fall, but that trip confirmed the strong vibe he had already received from the program.

“I got to get a good feel of the campus and the guys, and everything they do there,” Jaye said. “I got to stay in barracks overnight, which was really cool. I stayed with a couple players in their dorm, and I just got a good feel of the coaches and the player atmosphere, and hanging out in the clubhouse was a good experience.”

Burke said Jaye likely projects as either a shortstop, second baseman or corner outfielder at the collegiate level. Though he’s done well at shortstop at Millbrook and with the Richmond Braves, Jaye said it doesn’t matter where he plays.

“I feel comfortable at any spot in the infield or the outfield,” Jaye said. “Wherever the coaching staff wants me to play, that’s where I’ll go.”

Jaye said it’s nice to have his college decision behind him, but he’s not going to rest on his laurels.

“It is one less thing to think about, but it doesn’t change anything about the way I play or my approach to the game,” he said. “I’m always going to play the same way.

“I’m super excited about [VMI], and I just can’t wait to get there next year and start working with the guys.”

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at  rniedzwiecki@winchesterstar.comFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1