The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Prep Softball: The Best Birthday Present

  • Jones signs National Letter of Intent to play softball for Skyhawks
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  • Hanna Jones decided the best birthday present she could receive is the one she would give herself.
    Last Wednesday, just a few days shy of the Harrisburg High School senior's 18th birthday, Jones signed her National Letter of Intent to play softball for UT Martin.
    It was a short lived celebration for Jones, who admitted there is no sense of relief signing her papers.
    "Now it's getting real that I have to go to college," Jones said. "That also means I have to start lifting in the mornings, practicing and I'm not exactly used to getting up super early in the morning."
    Jones is an imposing force in the circle, standing tall at 5-foot-9. Despite some struggles in 2013, Jones made her mark with the Skyhawks in 2012, where she finished 18-12 with an ERA of 1.00 for Harrisburg, striking out 207 batters.
    At the plate, Jones hit .600 with eight doubles, two triples and one grand slam.
    UT Martin head coach Donley Canary said that a position change will not be in the cards for Jones when she lands on the west Tennessee campus.
    “We see Hanna being a pitcher for us,” Canary said. “She has played for two incredible strong travel club teams with the Georgia Impact and the Midland Magic, seeing plenty of big game experience over the years. We feel very fortunate that she chose to come to UT Martin and team up with former teammate and current Skyhawk Elizabeth Wiegand.”
    Jones agreed that her summer experience with the elite travel softball teams have prepared her for the college game and playing against that particular caliber of competition.
    "I think I'm ready, but I know I need to get stronger," Jones said. "My primary focus right now is to get stronger, so I can keep up and possibly go straight into the pitching lineup if that's what they need."
    Aside from being excited about traveling and playing at the next level, Jones admits there will be some tears shed come season end.
    "I'm going to miss playing basketball and playing with my friends," Jones said. "But getting an opportunity to play against other girls that are just as good is something that is really exciting."
    Michael Dann can be reached at mdann@dailyregister.
    Twitter: @spydieshooter
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