Skip to main content

Unsung hero's final-inning blast gives Jackson softball Class 4A District 1/2 championship over Bothell

Junior Hailey Pelletier lines game-winning home run on first pitch she sees to back ace pitcher Yanina Sherwood and the Timberwolves in 2-1 victory in Everett

EVERETT, Wash. - It was Hailey Pelletier's turn to carry Jackson Timberwolves softball on her back - in a week when it allowed for that to happen.

'Pelletier crushed a leadoff go-ahead home run in the seventh inning, and the No. 2 Timberwolves captured the Class 4A District 1/2 championship with a 2-1 victory Friday over No. 1 Bothell at Phil Johnson Ballfields.

Yanina Sherwood worked out a dicey sixth inning to toss a one-run complete game, outdueling Bothell's Taryn Bennett for her 19th victory this season.

But this was no ordinary bi-district championship game. It had the intensity - and drama - of something played, say ... next week in Richland at the WIAA championships.

"I definitely expected it with two really good teams," Sherwood said. "I was in class all day just thinking about it, mentally preparing for all the stuff we needed to do."

The 4A Wesco champions needed to play their best to hand the 4A KingCo winner its first loss.

Rachel Sysum led off the game with a solo home run to left field to give Jackson a 1-0 lead, but for long stretches, Bennett was the one in control from the circle, striking out 11 batters.

The Cougars finally broke through in the sixth inning. Rachel Traxler hit a one-out triple down the left-field line, and beat Sysum's throw home on Maleah Andrews' fielder's-choice ground ball to tie the game a 1-1.

Sherwood stranded Andrews at third base on a putout to end the inning.

"I just knew I had to keep pitching," Sherwood said.

Up stepped Pelletier, who has battled back issues much of the season but had been showing signs of good health - and breakthrough - the past two weeks.

"She's gutted it out," Jackson softball coach Kyle Peacocke said. "And she's been swinging the bat pretty good the last three or four days of practice."

Before Pelletier stepped in, she took a deep breath and gave herself a pep talk.

"Told myself I believed in myself," Pelletier said. "And I just got it done."

She did by walloping Bennett's first pitch on a rope over the left-field fence for the game-winning run.

Bothell put two runners on in the seventh inning, but Sherwood got Anna Fowler to ground a ball right to her, and the UNLV commit tossed it over to first base for the final out.

"We put ourselves in a couple good positions ... but we just didn’t come through today," Bothell softball coach Fred Miller said. "This was a great experience for our kids to go into a battle like this."

In one of the best bi-district tournaments in the state - in any sport.

"The last couple years with the KingCo and Wesco both having really good teams, it’s almost become a league in its own," Peacocke said.

The 4A Wesco took three of the bi-district's four bids after Kamiak defeated Skyline (5-1) and Glacier Peak handled Eastlake (9-0) in earlier winner-to-state, loser-out games.