JENNIFER JONES, WHO STEPPED DOWN MONDAY AS GAR-FIELD'S SOFTBALL HEAD COACH, WAS MISIDENTIFIED IN A HEADLINE IN WEDNESDAY'S EXTRA. (PUBLISHED 06/12/99)

The Gar-Field High School softball team might have a typically successful season next spring, but it won't be quite the same with someone else in the third-base coaching box, returning players say.

Jennifer Jones, Gar-Field's softball coach for the past 19 years, stepped down Monday to take an assistant coaching job at Mary Washington College. Jones will continue to work at the high school as assistant athletics director and physical education teacher.

"It's going to be a hard position to fill following in her footsteps," freshman pitcher/outfielder Kelly Brown said. "She was really dedicated and helped all the players. She considered us like her kids."

"She's a coach who listens to your problems and helps you out," junior outfielder Katie Fricke said. "I don't think anybody could take her place. But I think we're going to do okay because of our talent."

The Indians, who went 16-8 and reached the Northwestern Region semifinals this season, will return every starter except catcher Payton Nash. Those returning players include four first-team all-district picks: junior shortstop Vanessa Massie, Fricke, Brown and junior designated hitter Tee Walker.

Gar-Field made seven region tournament appearances this decade, winning three titles. The Indians won the Virginia AAA state championship in 1993.

"It wasn't an easy thing to do, but it's something I've thought about for several years," Jones, 49, said of coaching in a college program. "I'd been asked two years ago and kept putting it off.

"I figured if I didn't do it now, the offer might not be there again."