Jonesboro advances to region finals

By Doug Gorman

The Jonesboro Cardinals softball team is a step closer to winning the Region 5-AAAA championship.

A victory tonight in the tournament finals at 6 p.m. at Lovejoy Park would give the Lady Cardinals that honor.

Jonesboro advanced to the title game Tuesday night with a 1-0 victory against Southwest DeKalb.

Heather Lowry, who has verbally committed to play college softball at Virginia Tech, pitched a no-hitter and struckout 18 to lead the Lady Cardinals into the championship game.

Should Jonesboro win the region title it would enter the state tournament as the No.1-seed out of the 5-AAAA. The Lady Cardinals have already advanced to the state sectionals for the fourth straight year. They earned that honor with a 15-0 decision Monday night against Mays.

”It awesome (going to state four straight years),“ said Jonesboro head coach Jeanine Conkle. ”Ever since Heather started pitching, we've made state. We have seniors that have been with her all four years, and they really stepped up.“

Southwest DeKalb tried different ways to get on base against the Jonesboro senior, including crowding the plate, but nothing worked. The Lady Panthers grounded out in the first, and seventh, and popped out in the fourth, but the rest of the outs were all strikeouts from Lowry.

”She doesn't get rattled,“ said Conkle. ”She gets made at herself. When she struckout, she got mad at herself, because she doesn't do that. She's a great competitor, and Virginia Tech is getting a great one.“

Tuesday night's semifinal contest was a pitchers duel for five innings until the Lady Cardinals produced the only run of the game.

It came thanks to a little bit of help from the Southwest DeKalb defense as the Lady Panthers' catcher made two errors, allowing Jessica Martin to reach on a dropped third strike and get into scoring position.

Shawan Gwinn then delivered the RBI single.

”We just played good, we played good defense, and I'm really proud of them,“ said Conkle.

Jonesboro could face Southwest DeKalb again tonight in the finals. The Lady Panthers fell into the losers' bracket and will play at 4 p.m. against either Mays or South Atlanta for the right to meet the Lady Cardinals.

In other high school sports, it was also a successful day for the Jonesboro volleyball team as the Lady Cardinals beat Heritage (25-19, 16-25, 25-16) and also Eagle's Landing (25-19, 25-20).