Jackson wins back-to-back state softball titles

Timberwolves defeat Wesco 4A rival Lake Stevens 16-2 in the championship contest
By David Pan | Jun 07, 2019
Courtesy of: Kyle Peacocke Jackson players and coaches celebrate capturing their second straight 4A state championship Saturday, May 25, at the Dwight-Merkel Sports Complex in Spokane. Because of rain, the Timberwolves had to win four games on Saturday to claim the title.

Jackson faced its biggest challenge of the season at the 4A state softball tournament.

Rainy conditions forced the rescheduling of the Timberwolves’ games scheduled for Friday to Saturday. That meant in order to defend its state championship, Jackson had to win four games in one day.

The Timberwolves turned out to be more than up for the demanding undertaking – winning all four games, including a decisive 16-2 victory over Wesco 4A rival Lake Stevens in the championship game Saturday, May 25, at the Dwight-Merkel Sports Complex in Spokane.

Senior Iyanla De Jesus, who pitched all but 2 1/3 innings in the tournament for the Wolfpack, described the feeling of winning a second straight title as surreal.

“As soon as we all found out that all four games were on Saturday, we came together as a team,” De Jesus said. “Everybody played a huge role. … We just had a great day. It really came together this year and it’s an unforgettable way to end the season.”

While the state championship game turned out to be a blowout, Jackson had to battle through a close first-round game against Camas and a tight semifinal contest against Redmond.

The Wolfpack took a 3-1 lead into the fourth inning against Camas before the Papermakers rallied to tie the score with two runs in the fifth inning.

The two teams remained tied until Jackson’s Julia Dillon hit a single to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, as the Wolfpack pulled out a 4-3 victory.

“That hit was an important moment,” Jackson coach Kyle Peacocke said.

Peacocke added that being pushed to the brink by Camas helped the Timberwolves to refocus.

“It woke us up,” he said. “We played better the rest of the day.”

De Jesus had a good feeling after the opening win.

“After we beat Camas in the first game in extra innings, it felt like it was our day,” the Jackson senior said.

The Timberwolves jumped on Tahoma early, scoring three runs in the first inning and adding runs in each of the next three innings to eventually prevail 7-2 in a quarterfinal matchup. Senior Macy Tarbox and juniors Laina Delgado and Jillian Hampson each drove in two runs.

Jackson was able to rest De Jesus and junior catcher Hannah Greninger late in the game.

“For both of them, it was important to get them off their feet and get them a little rest,” Peacocke said.

The Timberwolves took a 2-0 lead on a two-run home run by De Jesus in the first inning against Redmond in the semifinals and held a 4-2 advantage into the seventh.

The Mustangs then loaded the bases for Kiki Milloy, a University of Tennessee recruit and daughter of former NFL safety Lawyer Milloy. De Jesus struck out Milloy to secure the victory and Jackson advanced to the championship game.

“She is one of a kind,” Peacocke said of De Jesus. “Her internal fire and desire and absolute will to win is like nothing I’ve seen before. It’s infectious. It permeates throughout the team. Players feed off of it. … Our team needed to score runs and play great defense. It really was a total team effort. When she needed to, she got big outs.”

Lake Stevens took a 1-0 lead in the third before the Wolfpack scored three runs in the third. Jackson then battered the Vikings for six runs in the fourth and seven in the fifth as the game was called to the 10-run mercy rule. Delgado drove in four runs, while Tarbox had three RBI. Hampson and junior Kelsey DeFries each drove in two runs.

The Timberwolves graduate just two other seniors – Tarbox and second baseman Jessica Asantor – in addition to De Jesus. With De Jesus drawing more than 40 walks this season, Tarbox, who followed her teammate in the lineup, became a force on offense.

“Macy Tarbox had a phenomenal year. She had 48 RBIs. She was the anchor in our four spot,” Peacocke said. “Jessica Asantor was an incredible leader. She made amazing defensive plays. They were three really special seniors.”

The three seniors helped the Timberwolves overcome two regular season losses to Lake Stevens and Glacier Peak during the first half of the regular season and the pressure of being the defending state champions and the target of every opponent. The Wolfpack (26-2) won its regular season rematches with its two league rivals and then claimed its fifth straight district crown. The Timberwolves are the first team to win back-to-back 4A titles since Kelso in 2009 and 2010.

“They’re just a family,” Peacocke said. “They set their goals. They wanted to win for each other. They were gutsy, gritty, fearless and relentless on their journey to do something that is very rare in high school athletics.”

 

GLACIER PEAK GOES 3-2: In its first appearance at state since 2016, Glacier Peak went 3-2 at the 4A softball tournament. The Grizzlies lost 10-6 to Richland in a first-round contest but then rebounded with three straight victories – 2-1 over Eastlake, 13-3 over Chiawana and 4-3 over Tahoma. The Grizzlies (20-8) then lost 3-2 to Richland to end the season.

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