Jackson players meet at the pitching circle during a Class 4A semifinal victory over Sumner at Columbia Playfield inn Richland, WA on Saturday, March 25. (Aaron Coe / The Herald).

Jackson players meet at the pitching circle during a Class 4A semifinal victory over Sumner at Columbia Playfield inn Richland, WA on Saturday, March 25. (Aaron Coe / The Herald).

Domination: Jackson repeats as 4A state softball champion

The Yanina Sherwood-led Timberwolves top Emerald Ridge 10-1 in the title game.

RICHLAND — The Jackson High School softball team made an emphatic statement to end a dominant season on Saturday with a 10-1 thrashing of Emerald Ridge in Saturday’s Class 4A state championship game at Columbia Playfield in Richland.

It was the second straight championship, and fourth in five tournament seasons for the second-seeded Timberwolves. This year, they won four games in two days by a combined score of 33-3.

“When these seniors were freshmen, I just knew it was a special group,” said Jackson coach Kyle Peacocke, whose team finished with a 25-2 record. “They’ve had the pressure on them basically since they were freshmen, and they just go out and take care of business one game at a time.”

Each player in the Jackson lineup delivered significant contributions to the team, and senior pitcher Yanina Sherwood made certain that the offensive fireworks were overkill. Sherwood, who will play at UNLV next year, threw all 364 pitches for the Timberwolves. The 6-foot-1 right-hander’s one earned run allowed was fewer than the seven she drove in as a batter. She struck out 37 batters in 26 state tournament innings pitched.

“I was just pushing through,” said Sherwood, who also pitched all four games for the 2023 championship team. “I love it — it’s my joy. I truly knew it was an opportunity, and when I get that opportunity I’m going to take it all the way and start running with it.”

In Saturday’s title game against the ninth-seeded Jaguars, the Timberwolves also ran with an opportunity to hit against Emerald Ridge pitching, which is known for throwing a lot of strikes. The Timberwolves, equally known for smashing strikes, hit them far despite winds gusting in from center field.

Jackson recorded 17 hits, including home runs from Allie Thomsen and Leneyah Mitchell. No. 9 hitter Reese Westman smacked a pair of doubles, and Addi Bale, Haylie Pelletier, Kiana Holden, Rachel Sysum and Thomsen also doubled. All nine batters recorded a hit, and the Timberwolves struck out just twice.

“We’re just a really good hitting team, and we want our kids to be aggressive and just come out and swing the bats like we’ve been capable of all year.” said Peacocke of his team’s penchant for attacking first-pitch strikes. “It’s really tough at the state tournament when you’re facing really good pitchers if you fall behind in the count. So that was kind of our game plan.”

Shortly after Sherwood fielded the final ground ball of her high school career and tossed it to Emery Tulio for the last championship out, joy turned to bittersweet tears as the group realized that their time together as teammates had come to an end.

“These girls, I have grown up playing with them, and they all mean the world to me,” said Mitchell, who caught every inning for the Timberwolves over championship weekend. “This means everything to me. My dreams have come true.”

Sysum, a Fresno State-bound shortstop, contributed with her bat, glove and arm. The senior was part of two double plays, and also made a play deep in the hole behind third base when the Jaguars were threatening early in the game.

“We just trust each other, and even the people on the bench — we know we have each other’s back,” Sysum said. “We know we can get out of difficult situations.”

“I think what also makes us good is we just enjoy each moment.”

Jackson reached the championship game by beating 14th-seeded Sumner 7-1 in the semifinals Saturday morning.

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