Jackson senior and UNLV commit Yanina Sherwood is The Herald’s 2024 Softball Player of the Year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Jackson senior and UNLV commit Yanina Sherwood is The Herald’s 2024 Softball Player of the Year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

2024 Softball Player of the Year: Jackson’s Yanina Sherwood

With both her arm and bat, Sherwood led the Timberwolves to their second-straight state title.

Yanina Sherwood always knew she was capable of leading the Jackson High School softball team back to the promised land.

The 6-foot UNLV-bound senior became renown within the local softball community during her time in a Timberwolves uniform, and she left no doubt in anyone’s mind that she was a force to be reckoned with in all aspects of the game. Sherwood pitched every inning during Jackson’s 2023 campaign as a junior, a season which culminated with the Class 4A state title.

However, she wasn’t quite satisfied — Sherwood wanted to play back the tape and do it all over again.

This season as a senior Sherwood was an absolute gatekeeper and an unbreakable figure in the circle. The righty ace punched in an absurd 273 strikeouts and walked just 23 batters in 166 2/3 innings, posting a microscopic 0.54 earned-run average. And she got her wish in the form of a second consecutive state-championship crown.

For her overall dominant effort, Sherwood is The Herald’s 2024 Softball Player of the Year, making her a back-to-back winner of the award.

“Personally, it was my last time playing high school softball and the last time I’ll get to play with the girls I grew up playing with,” Sherwood said. “It was kind of about taking in all those moments and cherishing them, not taking anything for granted and just leaving every single play on the field to help us have the success that we did.”

It’d be hard to imagine Jackson’s season being any more successful than it was, as the Timberwolves blasted through four state tournament games en route to the title by outscoring opponents by a combined 33-3 score.

In addition to holding opposing batters to a .108 average and logging five no-hitters on the year, Sherwood also had a perfect game with 17 strikeouts in Jackson’s state-clinching, 10-inning victory over North Creek in the Class 4A District 1/2 tournament.

Sherwood also took another leap as a batter, hitting .392 at the plate in the No. 3 hole in the lineup. She whacked 10 home runs, doubling her total as a junior. She also supplied 35 RBI and a team-best 23 walks.

Sherwood’s resume resembles one of another two-way star who made her way through Jackson’s program: The Herald’s 2018 and 2019 Softball Player of the Year Iyanla de Jesus, who just wrapped up her senior season at Coastal Carolina University. De Jesus was also a back-to-back state title winner with the Timberwolves.

“Yanina came in as a freshman and wanted to live up to and duplicate the things that Iyanla did,” Said longtime Timberwolves coach Kyle Peacocke, who announced he’s stepping down as head coach at the end of the season. “To her credit, she did all that. She’s a really great person outside of softball, and I’m super happy seeing how her high school career went.”

Sherwood didn’t have a shortage of state-wide recognition either, claiming back-to-back Washington State Player of the Year honors from MaxPreps and Scorebook Live. She was also named the 2024 Female Athlete of the Year for the Everett School District. This spring, she was named Gatorade State Player of the Year for Washington, adding another award to her heavy box of accolades.

Being the type of high-IQ player who can call out pitches with ease, Sherwood was a major hub when it came to team communication.

“Myself, Yanina and Leneyah (Mitchell) developed a really close relationship because of calling pitches. … Just that whole department,” Peacocke said. “I think the biggest thing was her total honesty. … We developed a nice symmetry there. She wanted to be her best self for the team, and she absolutely did that.”

It’s not uncommon to see Sherwood crack a smile through her pitcher’s mask whenever she’s in the zone. In fact, it’s rare to see her without a grin when she’s inside the lines.

Sherwood said she got a lot of joy out of being involved with the local softball community. She regularly commits to pitching lessons, from the youth level all the way up to helping out up-and-coming arms within her AAU program, AI Bandits Breer.

“The most common question I get asked is: ‘How are you so calm?’ or, ‘How do you not get nervous and keep your demeanor?’” Sherwood said. “I just tell them how I really feel. I went through ups and downs when I was younger, but I hit this point where everything is okay. … You learn from failing, and if you don’t fail you’re just going to plateau.”

Sherwood said she’s glad that she could be a name that helped draw more people to the sport that she invested so much time in.

“Honestly, I think the game of softball especially in Washington has grown tremendously,” Sherwood. “The amount of coaches and knowledge that people have is just crazy. … Looking at it right now, especially in high school softball, people are so much more competitive on a completely different level.”

Sherwood, who committed to UNLV in February of 2023, said that choosing her college home ahead of her junior year allowed her to play more freely over the last two seasons.

“Knowing that I found my home over that period of time, it made it so relaxing,” Sherwood said. “I was able to just play softball the way I know how to play softball. … Already having that relationship with them and knowing they support the goals that I aspire to do, which is to obviously win and take a team far, it’s just so exciting, and I’m excited to be in the hot weather … all the time.”

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