Valdosta Daily Times

March 14, 2013

Lowndes’ Keeli Jackson signs with Thomas University

Christian Malone
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Lowndes outfielder Keeli Jackson has signed a letter of intent to play softball for Thomas University next season.

She looks forward to playing college softball for the Lady Night Hawks.

“I’m really excited. It’s a great opportunity,” she said. “Their campus is gorgeous. It’s really nice. I love Coach (Bill) Wilson. When I met him, he was really accepting. (I like) the fact that it’s close to home.”

Jackson is a versatile player who can play in the outfield or the infield. She started in left field for the Vikettes last season, but also played some second base.

“(Coach Wilson) said he would be moving me around, so I’m going to see where he needs me the most,” Jackson said.

“Keeli’s a great athlete,” Lowndes head coach Stewart Thomas said. “She could play any sport. She’s just that good of an athlete.”

“I think Thomas is a good fit for her,” the Vikettes’ coach added. “She’s going to work hard to improve herself, and I really feel like she can contribute very quickly because she is going to get up there and work hard at it.”

Jackson was part of a Lowndes team that went 20-10 this season, and finished second in Region 1-6A. The Vikettes also continued their streak of postseason appearances; they have made the playoffs every season since they began playing fast-pitch softball in the 1990s.

“It was a blast,” Jackson said. “(Coach Thomas) came in and did a really great job with us.”

“She was a huge part,” Thomas said. “She came in and really took on a leadership role. Keeli’s one of those that it didn’t matter what the situation was, wherever I put her on the softball field, she was going to contribute.”

Jackson was also a member of a region championship team her sophomore year at Lowndes.

“It’s a privilege to play for Lowndes,” she said. “It’s amazing. And to play for Coach Thomas my senior year was awesome.”

She has played softball nearly her entire life.

“I love softball. I’ve played since I was three,” she said. “I’ve played since I could walk, pretty much. It’s a passion.”

Jackson is the sixth player from the 2012 Lowndes softball team to sign with a college. Shortstop Cara Parker signed with Appalachian State. Third baseman Heather Robinson and center fielder Chelsea Mefford signed with Valdosta State. Right fielder Kendall Holland and Tiffany Bishop, who pitches and plays second base, are going to Darton.

“This is a great senior class,” Thomas said. “They’ve really worked hard and they’ve really been dedicated and have sold out to what we’re trying to do.”

Jackson is an honor student. She says she has a 4.1 weighted grade point average. The Hope Scholarship will pay for part of her tuition at Thomas.

She will major in biology in college. After that, she wants to go to medical school and become an orthopedic doctor.

She says she plans to commute to Thomas and live at home. The short distance between Valdosta and Thomasville will likely allow her parents to see most of her home games.

The Lady Night Hawks have a history of success in softball. In 2004, they won the NAIA national championship.