By David Krueger Herald Writer
Right from the get go, the Jackson softball team showed it was going to be a force this season.
The Timberwolves opened the year with an impressive 12-2 win over Eastlake, which got things rolling for the Wesco 4A South power. The squad has followed that up with eight-consecutive wins, including big comebacks against Meadowdale and Kamiak, as the Timberwolves started the year 9-0.
“I was pretty pleased the way we started the year. We came out of the gate and put up 12 runs against a pretty good Eastlake team,” said Jackson head coach Kyle Peacocke. “That game kind of set the tone for the kids, in terms of getting them confidence at the plate.”
Jackson has scored 10 or more runs in five of its first nine games, including 21 in a game against Mariner and 19 against Shorewood on March 28. The Timberwolves erased a 5-0 deficit in a nonleague game against Meadowdale and came back after trailing 6-0 against Kamiak.
“It just seems like those two games kind of showed the kids’ hearts this year,” Peacocke said. “Regardless of the situation, they’re going to believe they have the opportunity.”
“We’ve definitely come across some challenges and I think we’ve faced some adversity and persevered through that,” said senior co-captain Sarah Casel. “But I have faith in my team and it doesn’t surprise me that we’re here.”
Lately, the Timberwolves haven’t needed as many runs, with star pitcher Sophie Frost having a strong season. The sophomore is 7-0 in her second year on varsity.
“Obviously, Sophie’s pitching extremely well,” Peacocke said. “She’s made a big stride from sophomore year to freshman year. … I think between last year and this year she has matured quite a bit in terms of her mental makeup. She has a little better understanding of situations and hitters and definitely has better control over all of her pitches. And she has a little more velocity as well.”
The pitcher has appreciated the strong run support early in the season.
“They’re definitely supporting me,” Frost said. “I feel way more confident out on the mound.”
Frost’s early success has made an impression on Jackson’s opponents, including the head coach of their next foe.
“We know Sophie Frost, that’s for sure,” said Lynnwood head coach Matt Rockne. “She’s going to be probably the strongest pitcher we’ll face all year. They’re pretty excited for that.
“For years to come she’s going to be trouble for us.”
Last season Jackson featured one senior — All-Wesco 4A South first-teamer Jessica Roy, who also pitched for the Timberwolves. In their 2014 campaign, Jackson has expanded its senior class to three: outfielders Darby Boggs and Casel, and middle infielder Juliana Faulconer.
“Having three seniors this year is much different than last year,” said Boggs. “But we like having a young team because the older girls are always really good leaders and can show the younger girls what Jackson softball is all about.”
Peacocke said that everybody has contributed to Jackson’s 9-0 start. He mentioned junior catcher Kayla Ellis — who has started since she was a freshman — and first baseman Taylor Adams, a freshman who already has a pair of home runs this season.
“I think the most important thing is this group of girls has totally bought into the team concept,” Peacocke said. “They care less about who gets the credit than just doing whatever they can to help the team win. As far as offense goes, it seems like it’s always somebody new that steps up.”
“We don’t care who has the success or the glory,” said Ellis. “We just care that we all are doing well and that we’re winning.”
Players on the Jackson team said the squad is a tight-knit group that has a lot of fun together — but is also one that works really hard on the field.
“We hang out a lot together and we’re always supportive of each other,” Ellis said. “We work hard at practice but it’s always fun. There’s never a dull moment when someone’s not smiling.”
Said Frost: “I feel like the team chemistry this year is great. It’s so much fun being out here every day with my best friends.”
The Timberwolves hope to continue that fast start against a Lynnwood team that is also undefeated in league play and boasts an 8-1 overall record. In 2013, Jackson beat the Royals three times, including an 8-7 thriller in the district playoffs that ended Lynnwood’s season.
“For the girls that are back from last year, they remembered it,” Rockne said. “They brought it up after the (last) game. We’re real excited to see them.”
Jackson, meanwhile, is sticking to its “one game at a time” philosophy.
“Every game is important,” Boggs said. “It doesn’t matter what team we’re playing. We play like it’s going to be the best team and I think that’s the important thing. You’ve got to think every game is the important one to win.”