Jackson’s Rachel Sysum is hugged by Leneyah Mitchell after hitting a home run during the game against Bothell on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Jackson’s Rachel Sysum is hugged by Leneyah Mitchell after hitting a home run during the game against Bothell on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Clutch HRs, pitching lead Jackson past Bothell for district title

Home runs from Sysum and Pelletier, plus a superb outing from Sherwood, lift the T-wolves past the previously unbeaten Cougars 2-1.

EVERETT — Solo homers from leadoff hitters in the first and seventh innings were the two high-octane offensive plays that Jackson needed to knock off previously undefeated Bothell in a heavyweight showdown on Friday night at the Phil Johnson Ballfields.

The No. 2 seeded Timberwolves softball team escaped with a 2-1 win over the Cougars to claim the 4A District 1/2 Tournament championship.

“Our kids have battled all year, they’ve played awesome for us all year,” Jackson coach Kyle Peacocke said. “Two huge home runs, one to start the game, and the one at the end from Hailey Pelletier after (Bothell) had tied it up. … Just absolutely clutch.”

On the first at-bat of the contest, junior shortstop Rachel Sysum, a Fresno State commit, caught the Cougars off guard and whacked a solo shot to left field on a 2-2 count. She went 3-for-3 at the plate in the game, adding a stolen base.

Junior and UNLV signee Yanina Sherwood started for Jackson (21-1), helping blank Bothell (24-1) from the first-through-fifth innings, before giving up one run in the sixth. She struck out six, walked one and allowed six hits in a full showing in the circle as the Cougars didn’t get a leadoff hitter on base until the fifth inning.

After the Cougars worked their way into scoring position in the sixth, senior Maleah Andrews delivered an RBI double, plating senior Rachel Traxler to tie it up 1-1.

With extra innings seeming like a possibility, Pelletier, a junior, belted a line drive for the go-ahead homer that ended up being enough for Jackson to sink the Cougars in seven.

“We knew we were facing a tough team and a tough pitcher,” Peacocke said. “We knew we had to stay locked in and be ready for pitches to hit, and we ended up getting two shots from two leaders. … We’re just gonna enjoy this one for the weekend and we’ll re-group on Monday and get ready for the state tournament.”

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