MONROE — When it comes to league rival Snohomish, the Jackson softball team always seems to save its best for last.
For the second year in a row the Panthers swept Jackson in the regular season and for the second year in a row the Timberwolves got their revenge in the district title game, this time defeating Snohomish 3-2 Friday afternoon in the 4A District 1 championship game that resumed after rain postponed it in the first inning Thursday evening.
The victory clinches a 4A state berth for Jackson.
“I can’t explain it. They own us in the regular season but we’ve been able to beat them in the championship game,” Jackson head coach Kyle Peacocke said. “When we played them the last game of the regular season it was probably the worst game we played. Our kids wanted to come out and make a statement and play differently and show that we’re not that team and they just did a great job. I’m really proud of them.”
The game continued from the same point it was at when it succumbed to the weather Thursday afternoon. Snohomish came to the plate with one out and runners on second and third.
Jackson senior Sophia Frost quickly neutralized the threat with two of her six strikeouts.
“That was really stressful. We had all night to think about the fact that they had runners on second and third with only one out,” Peacocke said. “But Sophia beared down and got two huge strikeouts. I think that moment kind of calmed everybody. We had a six-inning ballgame and they just persevered.”
It looked like the only offense in the game might be that from Thursday until a freshman put Jackson (20-3 overall) ahead in the top of the fifth. Iyanla Pennington hit a two-run single to give the Timberwolves their first runs since the top of the first inning on Thursday.
Pennington finished 2-for-3 in the game.
“That was unbelievable,” Peacocke said. “She’s a great talent. She’s going to be pitching for us next year. She’s just done a great job with the bat all year. Just a clutch, clutch moment for a freshman to step up and do that. It was just absolutely huge.”
Jackson’s Kristina Day led off the game with a solo home run on Thursday and finished 1-for-2 with two runs scored.
Snohomish got its first run of the day in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI single by Sami Reynolds that scored Taylor Khorrami. But Reynolds was thrown out at second base trying to turn it into an RBI double.
Frost struck the next batter out to end the game.
“Got a little sweaty there in the seventh inning,” Peacocke said with a laugh. “But (Frost) was locked in. She was ready to go. She was a little bit frustrated with the rain (on Thursday) and her first-inning performance. She told the team on the bus that she was going to get it done (Friday) and she did it.”
Reynolds went 2-for-2 with a run scored and Natalie Campbell (1-2) had an RBI double in the first inning on Thursday for Snohomish (18-3).
“It was exactly the kind of game we expected we’d have. Close,” Snohomish head coach Lou Kennedy said. … Jackson played perfect — no mistakes, no issues. They were awesome. Sophia was dead on. She’s hard to hit already, when she’s that well on she’s a big problem. I love this kind of game. I’d rather win it, but I love a nice 3-2 game.”
Frost out-dueled Snohomish ace Alyssa Simons, who she is good friends with, for the win. Both pitchers have been instrumental to their teams’ success this season.
It also quickly showed it would be another classic Jackson-Snohomish battle.
“It really was just the usual battle,” Kennedy said. “The two girls pitching — they’re good friends — and they just duke it out. It kind of came down to the same thing it always does when good teams play each other: who makes the fewest mistakes. We made a couple and they capitalized.”
Snohomish will face Monroe in a loser-out, winner-to-state game at 11 a.m. Saturday at Snohomish High School. The game may get moved to Monroe High School if heavy rains that are in the forecast make the Snohomish field unplayable.
“Their goal is to get to state. We did the same thing last year,” Kennedy said. “We came out and had a duke-it-out game with Jackson last year. It’s not a surprise. There’s several really, really good teams in this league. Our last chance is (Saturday).”
Either Snohomish or Monroe will join Jackson at the 4A state tournament, where the Timberwolves hope to improve on last year’s finish that saw Jackson go 1-2 at the Merkel Sports Complex in Spokane.
“I’m ecstatic,” Peacocke said. “I’m very happy not to be playing in that next game. We’ll enjoy this but we went last year and I think we’d like to go and do a little bit better and go after some hardware this year.”
At Sky River Park
WP: Sophia Frost. LP: Alyssa Simons. Individual highlights: Jackson—Iyanla Pennington (2-3, 2 RBI); Kristina Day (1-2, HR, RBI, 2 R); Snohomish—Sami Reynolds (2-2, R); Natalie Campbell (1-2, RBI, 2B). Records—Jackson 20-3 overall. Snohomish 18-3.