Jackson’s Yanina Sherwood pitches during a game against Glacier Peak on April 28, 2022 in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Jackson’s Yanina Sherwood pitches during a game against Glacier Peak on April 28, 2022 in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Prep softball preview: 5 things to watch this season

A look at the top local storylines to keep an eye on this high school softball season.

With league play beginning to ramp up quickly in the high school softball season, there are many area teams and storylines to keep up with as the year moves along.

Here are five things to watch over the rest of 2023 season:

Snohomish’s Emma Hansen dives to try and beat the runner to second base during a game against Glacier Peak on March 16, 2022, in Snohomish. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Snohomish’s Emma Hansen dives to try and beat the runner to second base during a game against Glacier Peak on March 16, 2022, in Snohomish. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Returning area teams with 2022 state berths

There was a substantial batch of area softball teams that reached the state tournaments last season. Lakewood (2A) and Jackson (4A) both bowed out in the semifinals of their respective classes in 2022, with five other schools making a bid.

Marysville Getchell, Monroe, Cascade, Arlington and Snohomish will all look to run it back in Class 3A, and other teams have begun the spring season strong.

The beginning glance at the Wesco 3A standings show the door is wide open for other potential suitors down the line. Eleven teams have multiple losses and no squad has notched more than four wins.

Glacier Peak’s Faith Jordan laughs at her teammates as she runs toward home plate after hitting a home run during a game against Snohomish on March 16, 2022, in Snohomish. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Glacier Peak’s Faith Jordan laughs at her teammates as she runs toward home plate after hitting a home run during a game against Snohomish on March 16, 2022, in Snohomish. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Who will climb to the top in Wesco 4A?

The Wesco 4A scene is sure to be a tight one, with league play set to begin mid-April.

Returning off a 4-3 state semifinal loss in 2022 against Skyview, Jackson (7-0) still looks to be the class of the conference. After coming up short in their search for a third state title in a row, with 4A championships coming in 2018 and 2019, the Timberwolves have started hot with a young returning corps, running through a non-league guantlet of teams that made the state tournaments last season (Inglemoor, Lake Washington, Peninsula and Kentwood).

Junior ace Yania Sherwood, a UNLV commit, has built off her dominant 2022 campaign in the new year, surrendering just two runs so far over 43 innings pitched. She’s rung up 85 strikeouts with just five walks as Jackson has allowed just 0.3 runs per game. Returning junior shortstop and Fresno State commit Rachel Sysum has also started the year strong, running up a .360 batting average with three homers and nine RBI.

Along with Jackson, Lake Stevens (6-1), Kamiak (9-0) and Glacier Peak (4-0) have all taken care of business in the early stages of spring.

Kamiak, who finished the year 12-10 in 2022, has been on fire at the plate to start this season. The Knights are led by returning junior infielder Scarlette Chapman, who has gone 28-of-34 (.824) and has racked up 26 RBI so far this spring. Kamiak is batting .474 as a group.

Lake Stevens, which came one game shy of a state berth in 2022, dropping a 7-6 bout to Inglemoor in a bi-district loser-out game, also presents the league with another strong contender. The Vikings have started the year with a .410 average at the plate.

Cascade’s Alexa Hamshaw is congratulated by her teammates after hitting a home run during a game against Lakewood on March 13, 2023, in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Cascade’s Alexa Hamshaw is congratulated by her teammates after hitting a home run during a game against Lakewood on March 13, 2023, in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

High run totals across the board in Wesco

The lofty scoring totals over the first three weeks of play have continued to be a trend in Wesco. In the early stages of the year, double-digit run totals have been the norm.

There are 14 teams within both Wesco leagues averaging at least eight runs, with nine of those teams tallying at least 10 scores per contest.

In 2022, no Wesco team averaged more than 9.7 runs per game.

Will Monroe be able to rebound from senior turnover?

The Bearcats had a memorable run at the 3A state tournament, winning three straight games by double-digits before falling to Bonney Lake 10-5 in a loser-out game.

Monroe faces a tall task in replicating success after losing some of its premier senior talent. The Bearcats (0-6), had four of the top six batters in Wesco 3A/2A last season, including the since-graduated River Mahler, who was The Herald’s Softball Player of the Year in 2022 and now plays for Stanford.

Monroe returns senior Annie Oylear, who batted .464 last season, as the only key player from that group.

Lakewood’s Katie Krueger pitches to Cascade’s Jaidyn Wilson during a game on March 13, 2023, in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Lakewood’s Katie Krueger pitches to Cascade’s Jaidyn Wilson during a game on March 13, 2023, in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

How will Lakewood build off school’s best season?

The Cougars came away with a state semifinal berth and an 18-8 record in 2022, losing to Othello 17-3 in the semis, marking the program’s deepest playoff run to date.

Along with Lakewood, the Northwest 3A/2A/1A league is filled with quality teams on a yearly basis.

Nooksack Valley (26-1), Lynden (21-5) and Mount Baker (23-7) all had strong 2022 seasons, figuring to be tough tests for the Cougars again in 2023.

Junior designated player Avalon Kummer returns having delivered 15 doubles in 2022 with a .526 average, along with an .825 slugging percentage.

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