By Brian Howard
Heather Lowry had a good start to capping her final year as a high school softball player.
The senior Jonesboro High School pitcher, who has verbally committed to Virginia Tech, pitched a no-hitter in the opening game of the Class AAAA-North state sectionals Friday afternoon at Lovejoy Park.
Lowry allowed just two base runners - an error and a walk - but pitched the minimum 21 batters, retiring 17 on strikeouts as the Lady Cardinals improved to 18-3 with a 4-0 win over Forsyth Central.
However, the Lady Cardinals lost in the second game, 5-0, to East Paulding, sending Jonesboro into the loser's bracket.
The Lady Cardinals play 12 p.m. today against the winner of Madison/Southwest DeKalb.
Jonesboro, which has made it annual event the past four years to play in the state sectionals, scored a run in the first, third and two in the fourth inning.
Lowry not only pitched a solid game, but she provided most of the offense by going 3-for-4, including her first career state sectionals home run. Jonesboro finished with five hits.
Besides Lowry, Shannon Harris, Denisha Harrison and Kellsie Curry also had hits for the Lady Cardinals, who have won their last nine games.
Designated as the visitors, Jonesboro began the game by having the first three players reaching base.
Harris reached on an error, followed by Harrison and Lowry getting on with infield hits to load the bases.
Curry drove in the first run of the game on a fielder's choice, allowing Harris to score, while Harrison was tagged out at third.
With the Lady Cardinals leading 1-0 in the third inning and two outs, Lowry crushed a 1-1 pitch by Lady Bulldogs pitcher Cory Morgan over the center field fence to push the lead to 2-0.
Jonesboro put the game out of reach in the fourth inning, scoring a pair of runs on two hits.
Megan Baity reached on an error by the shortstop to begin the inning and Shawanna Gwinn followed with a bunt single. Harris walked with one down and after a strikeout, Lowry drove in Baity and Gwinn on a double to center.
Morgan worked four innings in taking the loss. The junior pitcher gave up four runs on five hits, walked two and struckout seven. Heather Pruitt pitched the final three innings, striking out three and walking three.
The double-elimination tournament continues today beginning at 10 a.m.
n In Augusta at the Class AAAA-South state sectionals, the Luella High School softball team took a gigantic step Friday night as the Lady Lions won both games of the Class AAAA-South State Sectionals.
Luella, which has a 14-2 record in international tiebreakers, beat Whitewater in the opening round, 1-0 in eight innings.
The Lady Lions' offense exploded for five runs in the second game as Luella beat Effingham County, 5-2.
Luella plays 2 p.m. today against Northgate.
n Eagle's Landing defeated Chapel Hill in the first game of the tournament, 2-0, but were sent to the loser's bracket after falling to Greenbrier, 2-1 in eight innings.