Jones, Ricca earn second-team Academic All-Southland honors

The two Northwestern State baseball players who were chosen in this past week’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft were more than just standouts on the field.

Right-handed pitcher Nathan Jones and shortstop Caleb Ricca also stood out in the classroom, earning second-team Academic All-Southland Conference honors, which were announced by the league Tuesday afternoon.

It is the first academic honors for both players.

“Both of those guys took care of their business on the field and in the classroom,” said head coach Bobby Barbier, who concluded his third season in May. “I’m proud of them for working hard on and off the field and being rewarded for it.”

Jones, a senior from Shreveport’s Loyola College Prep, finished his academic career with a 3.41 grade point average, earning his undergraduate degree in business administration in May.

On the field, the right-hander went 7-4 with a team-leading 2.78 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 81 innings, earning second-team All-Southland Conference honors. Jones concluded his career ranked in the top 10 in four different statistical categories.

The New York Mets’ fifth-round draft selection ended his NSU baseball career tied for second in career starts (44), fourth in strikeouts (223), fifth in innings pitched (308) and sixth in appearances (65).

Jones also was the lone Southland Conference starter to throw multiple complete-game shutouts in the 2019 season, tossing back-to-back, sub-100-pitch shutouts against McNeese (April 20) and at Stephen F. Austin (April 26).

Jones finished the season 37th nationally in complete games (2), 57t in WHIP (1.05), 70th in hits per nine innings (6.67) and 96th in ERA (2.78).

Ricca carried a 3.33 grade point average as a business administration major while starting all 55 games at shortstop.

A product of Dutchtown High School, Ricca led the Southland Conference with 24 stolen bases, a total that tied for him for 10th in school single-season history and placed him 50th nationally, en route to earning third-team All-Southland honors at shortstop.

Ricca concluded his Demons career ranked ninth in doubles (38) and 10th in stolen bases (47). In his junior season, Ricca led Northwestern State in doubles (17), extra-base hits (25), total bases (105) and on-base percentage (.405) and shared the team lead in triples (3).

He started the final 150 games of his college career, dating to March 25, 2017.