By David Krueger Herald writer
The young Jackson softball team — which features only one senior — is off to a good start this season thanks to that senior and a bevy of younger players that are stepping up for the Timberwolves.
Jackson, which has started the season 5-2, already has half of its win total from last season, when the Timberwolves went 8-13 in Kyle Peacocke’s first season at the helm.
In his second season, Peacocke features a team with lone senior Jessica Roy, and more freshman (five) than any other class.
“At the beginning of the year we talked about last year a little bit but for the most part we’re just trying to focus on this year,” Peacocke said. “I do have five freshman and four sophomores on the team. In a lot of ways it’s a totally new group.
Roy is a good senior to have. The shortstop and pitcher hit home runs in her first four games and six of the first seven.
“I think Jessica would tell you she doesn’t see herself necessarily as a home-run hitter,” Peacocke said. “She’s just feeling it right now. I don’t know that I can really explain it. I’ve had a lot of good hitters over the years but I’ve certainly never seen anything like this in bunches.”
Indeed, Roy too seems a bit surprised by the early season power surge.
“My entire life I’ve never thought that I was a power hitter,” Roy said. “I always thought of myself as the one that would get singles and doubles, get on first base and steal the rest of the bases. But I never thought I’d hit myself in. I’ve done it before but I’ve never done it this consistently and that’s something that’s really cool. It’s been a first for me. It surprised me and I think it surprised a lot of people.”
Her play, more than her age, has earned her the leadership role on the Timberwolves.
“It’s a tough situation to be in for her. Typically, you like to have three, four, five seniors who can kind of lead your team and do it together as a group,” Peacocke said. “It’s kind of weird because she’s a minority in the group. But just in terms of her talent and what she’s doing on the field she’s had an incredible start. Her play has been her leadership.”
“I don’t think technically, it’s because of her age,” added Jackson freshman pitcher Sophia Frost. “I think it’s because of her performance that she’s leading.”
Roy, who is choosing between playing softball at Boise State or Hartford University, was a bit nervous coming into the season as the only senior, but that fear has been quelled with other players, such as Frost and junior Juliana Faulconer, stepping up.
“I was nervous because being the only one I could have been an outcast but I think that even though I am the lone senior I have a lot of respect from the younger players,” said Roy. “I don’t really feel a lot of pressure. I think the rest of our team does a really good job of keeping everything as a team and not really putting it on one person. We have a lot of leaders. Sophia and Juliana are definitely leaders and we have a couple other leaders who have stepped up too.”
While Roy has provided the offense for the Timberwolves, Frost has handled things on the mound for Jackson. The freshman has pitched every inning of Jackson’s first seven games, giving her an identical record as the Timberwolves at 5-2.
The first-year Jackson player said she’s completely comfortable and has no nerves out on the mound.
“Personally, I’m not nervous,” Frost said. “I had talked to coach Kyle beforehand and I kind of knew that I was going to be starting a lot of the games. I didn’t expect to pitch every single game so far.”
Peacocke said that Frost, like several of the young Timberwolves, displays a maturity beyond her years.
“I guess it’s just one of those things where she just has that it factor once you get in the (pitcher’s) circle,” Peacocke said. “She is a freshman but she handles herself in a mature way. I think that she has confidence in herself and her abilities.”
With Frost taking over pitching duties, it allows Peacocke to use Roy, an All-Wesco South second team selection last season, in the field. This allows the Timberwolves to take advantage of Roy’s athleticism.
“She does a good job but the thing is she’s really athletic and we really need her to play shortstop this year,” Peacocke said. “She’s stepped in and really done a good job there. I didn’t necessarily foresee that Sophia would pitch every game so far but that’s just the way it worked out. It’s one of those things where it’s working and you don’t want to mess up with it too much.”
Jackson also has another pitcher in Faulconer, who also plays second base. With Roy and Frost looking on, Faulconer said that this year’s team has become a tightly knit group.
“I love both of them. They’re awesome,” Faulconer said. “We’ve really grown as a team. I love that we’ve all come together and we’re really close. ? Coach Peacocke talked about having a young team but I don’t think it affected us that much. The chemistry’s there. We’ve really grown as a team.”
Frost foresees a strong season for the Timberwolves and sees an advantage to having such a young Jackson roster.
“Definitely, I want to go to state and I want to go far,” Frost said. “I see a lot of potential from every single girl and I just think that’s really cool on a high school team. Since we only have one senior only one person is leaving. I think we’re going to be building up a really good team.”
Peacocke expects Jackson to suffer a few growing pains this season. But if the early results are any indication, it could be a very successful one for the Timberwolves.
“I think optimistically I was thinking that we were going to be able to be competitive but the kids are going out there and doing it,” Peacocke said. “Obviously there’s a long way to go but it’s a good start. We’re certainly going to make some mistakes because we are young. But I don’t think the kids worry about it so much. Sometimes I think we are too young to worry.”