By Jeffery Armstrong
The Jonesboro Cardinals baseball team has breezed through the regular season without a blemish on its Region 2-AAAAA record.
Now comes the big test: a trip to McDonough to face the Henry County Warhawks, the second place team in the region and the No. 1 team in the state in Class AAAAA. Jonesboro (13-3, 8-0) will take on the Warhawks and standout lefty pitcher Michael Rozier this evening at 5:55 p.m.
The only blemish for Henry County (14-1, 6-1) was a loss to the Stockbridge Tigers in region play on March 24. The Warhawks have won five straight games since that loss.
"This is a big game because it's the next game. Henry County is a well-coached team and they've always been a good team," said Jonesboro head coach Don Corr. "Rozier is a very, very good pitcher. Our team looks forward to the challenge. If we play the game like it's supposed to be played, then we have a chance to win it."
Jonesboro has been a team of streaks as well; the Cardinals won their first seven games before losing to Wheeler and they were on an eight-game winning streak before dropping two games in a Mississippi tournament. Jonesboro was ranked as high as fourth in the state, but now they have dropped out of the rankings. Despite falling out of the state ranks, Henry County head coach Chuck Campbell knows his team will have its work cut out for it this evening.
"They are on a roll," said Campbell. "They are scoring a lot of runs, so we are going to have to try and slow that down."
That won't be an easy task. The Cardinals are a scoring machine in the last week or so, averaging about nine runs per game. Cardinals Alford Arnold (.354 before the trip), Branan Norsworthy (.361), Harold Walker (.314), Rashad Brown (.404) and even freshman Harry Nutter (.381) have been hitting the ball well for the majority of the season.
The Cardinals have received pretty good pitching themselves. Sophomore Andrew Dye will get to match pitches with the senior Rozier. Dye is 2-0 and has a 2.80 earned run average in 15 innings of work.
Today's game is not only a showdown for region supremacy, it is also a contest that pits good friends Campbell and Corr against each other.
"Being friends as coaches adds to the atmosphere of this game," Corr said. "It is not easy to play people you respect and have friendships with because someone will leave disappointed that night. Once you step between the lines, you put the friendship on hold - after the last pitch, you're friends again."
Another key game today will be the Mt. Zion Bulldogs hosting the Eagle's Landing Golden Eagles at 5:30 p.m. The Bulldogs have a chance to play spoiler against an Eagle's Landing team that has been on a mini-roll as of late.
Other games slated for today include Woodward Academy at Forest Park (5 p.m.), Houston County at Morrow (5:30 p.m.), Riverdale at Fayette County (6 p.m.) and McIntosh at Mundy's Mill (6 p.m.).