MONROE – Flawless defense and a relentless offense proved more than enough to send the Jackson softball team to state.
The Timberwolves secured a trip to the Class 4A state tournament with Saturday’s 8-4 victory over Stanwood at the 4A District 1 softball tournament at Sky River Park in Monroe. Jackson, which improved to 21-3, rebounded from Thursday’s 2-0 loss to Lake Stevens in time to win twice on Saturday and secure the district’s third and final state berth. Stanwood’s season ended with a 15-7 record.
“They knew what they had to do today,” said Timberwolves coach Mike Moran, whose team plays a first round state game on Friday at SERA Fields in Tacoma. “They came out very, very confident swinging the bat. … And the defense was nails.”
Leadoff hitter Jenna Mohrweis, whose uniform was covered with dirt by game’s end, haunted the Spartans all afternoon. The speedy second baseman doubled, walked three times, stole three bases and scored three runs.
“Hopefully the bottle of Tide isn’t too empty at her house,” said Moran of Mohrweis’ dirt-hungry style.
Using a batting style that seemingly gets her to first base before she ever makes contact, Mohrweis saw 26 Stanwood pitches in four plate appearances.
“It’s my job to go deep (in the pitch count) and help my teammates see lots of pitches,” said Mohrweis, who made several spectacular defensive plays during the tournament. “I try to do that every time – even if it’s a little boring.”
Mohrweis teams with shortstop Ashley Todd to give the Timberwolves a solid middle infield. Todd put on a defensive clinic in the fourth inning. The junior made a running catch in shallow left-center field for the first out. The next two Stanwood batters hit sharp grounders, but Todd made her job look easy with perfect glove work and strong throws that beat the runners. Neither team was charged with an error on Saturday.
“I think our defense won it for us out there,” said Todd, who was 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI. “We’ve had solid defense all year, and we stepped it up a notch.”
In a sport that often equals soccer’s low scores, Jackson and Stanwood put on offensive displays early in the game.
Stanwood led 2-0 thanks to Carly Peters’ two-run double in the top of the first. Often, that would be enough.
Unless the opponent is Jackson.
The Timberwolves struck back quickly, scoring five in the bottom of the first and two more in the second for a 7-2 advantage. Morgan Frost hit a two-RBI double in the first. Todd drove in a run in each of the first two innings. Carly McEachran (2-for-4, double, two RBI), Taryn Pearce (3-for-3 with an RBI) and Tamara Priebe also drove in runs for Jackson.
Stanwood closed the gap to 7-4 in the third inning with Emily McCoy’s bases-loaded walk and an RBI groundout from Michelle Aikens.
But, Jackson starter Lauren Reid settled down after a rocky start, retiring nine of the final 11 batters she faced.
Priebe slammed the door shut when she relieved Reid in the seventh and final inning. The senior closer struck out two batters in a 1-2-3 inning that concluded with another solid play by Todd.
The Timberwolves could use a few more of those next weekend.
Though the loss to Lake Stevens on Thursday stung, the Timberwolves – who lost only one league game all season – now know how to utilize the one-game-at-a-time approach. There was no brash talk of a state championship after the Stanwood game – just hope for another Saturday.
“That’s a long way from now,” Todd said. “I’m just glad we’re practicing on Monday.”
At Sky River Park
Stillman, Jeans (2) and Bingham. Reid, Priebe (7) and Cole. WP-Reid. LP-Stillman. 2B-Osborne (S), Frost (J), McEachran (J), Mohrweis (J), Todd (J). Records-Stanwood 15-7 overall. Jackson 21-3.