The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Prep Softball: Jones gives verbal to UT Martin

  • Junior is first HHS female student-athlete to go to a D-1 program since 2000
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  • Hanna Jones' heart was able to tell her what her head wanted to hear.
    Despite still having two years of high school left, the standout Bulldog pitcher was given an opportunity to sleep on a decision to continue her softball career at University of Tennessee Martin after making an official visit Thursday.
    Jones toured the campus, talked to members of the Skyhawk coaching staff, as well as players and then made the trek back to Saline County with some options.
    One option Jones executed was calling her Midland Magic 18-U Gold coach, Dale Shelton, whose advice proved to be all the Harrisburg High School junior needed to hear.
    "He told me that if my heart tells me this is what I want to do, I should just call them up and tell them."
    Jones didn't waste any time.
    Despite the Ohio Valley Conference soccer tournament going on in Martin and members of the softball program working the concession stand, Jones dialed up Skyhawk head coach Donley Canary and said there was no reason for her to sleep on her decision.
    With that, Jones gave her verbal commitment to UT Martin, where she will play for the Skyawks in 2014.
    Jones is the first Harrisburg High School female student-athlete to go to a Division I college straight out of high school since Kaci Pilcher signed with Southeast Missouri State in 2000 for cross country.
    "I know that Martin is where I want to go," Jones said Friday despite having other schools show interest. "The coaches take you in as family. They have a movie night once a week and Martin is really a lot like Harrisburg. I like the fact that it's a small town."
    Last season Jones compiled a record of 18-12 as a pitcher for a Harrisburg team that went 19-17. Jones struck out 207 batters, while finishing with an ERA of 1.0 and a batting average of .600, while hitting eight doubles, two triples, one grand slam and 13 RBIs on the season.
    Michael Dann can be reached at hbgsports@dailyregister.com. Follow him on Twitter @spydieshooter.
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