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April 24, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Triple Play: Softball notes on Jackson, Bainbridge and key games

I’m changing things up just a little in this week’s edition of Triple Play, my weekly blog notebook devoted to prep softball.

You’ll still get a look at look at a couple of local teams – Jackson and Bainbridge – but the third leg will focus on a couple of the key games from over the past week, some big ones on tap and a glance at a few area league races.

There’s a bit of irony in the pairing of Jackson and Bainbridge today. I think I jinxed them yesterday, when I had reached out to each coach to set up the interviews for this morning.

Both teams were off to great starts with just one loss each. Both went down hard yesterday. Jackson fell 11-4 to Monroe, while Bainbridge took a 20-9 whipping from Holy Names.

Jackson coach Kyle Peacocke was so disappointed in the way his team played – the Timberwolves committed a season high eight errors – he wasn’t sure they deserved to be featured.

“We do not look like an 11-2 team after today,” he wrote in an e-mail last night.

But I reminded him there were still a lot of positive things we could talk about – like those 11 wins – and he kindly reconsidered.

So, let’s start with the Timberwolves.

Jackson on track to continue WesCo South climb

Progress has been the watchword at Jackson since Peacocke took over as head coach in 2012 after 12 seasons at Everett.

The T-Wolves won just eight games the first year, but still finished third in the WesCo 4A South Division and qualified for the Northwest District tournament, where they went two-and-out.

Last season, they took second in the division behind Cascade and wound up 13-10 overall, including a 1-2 performance at district.

So, the natural progression this season would be finishing first.

“Our No. 1 goal this year is we want to win the WesCo South,” Peacocke confirmed. “We made improvement last year and we want to continue to improve on that. Overall, I think the girls would like to challenge for a spot to state. But our main focus this year is one game at a time, one goal at a time. We’ve got to take care of the regular season before we start getting too far ahead of ourselves.”

Jackson started the season 10-0, 5-0 in league play, then dropped two of its past three starting with an 8-7 loss to a very good Lake Stevens team. The Timberwolves beat Mount Verson, 7-0, before the debacle against Monroe.

“It was painful,” Peacocke said of yesterday’s game. “We didn’t look like a very good team.”

But he expects his players to respond well and said they need to get back to fundamentals.

“Maybe it’s a good wakeup call,” Peacocke said. “We need to clean up our defense and get back to focusing on one pitch at a time. It’s a good reminder that we need to keep working hard and stay focused.”

Coming into the season, he said he thought the WesCo North might be tougher than the South, and so far it’s proving that way. Snohomish leads the North at 7-0 (13-0 overall), followed by Arlington (6-1, 9-3) and Lake Stevens (5-2, 10-2).

In the South, Jackson is trailed by Lynnwood (4-3, 8-4) and Edmonds-Woodway (4-4, 8-5). Lynnwood has lost three straight after starting the season 7-1, that lone loss coming against Meadowdale in the second game of the season. Jackson beat the Royals 3-0 early last week.

The Timberwolves have two more tough games coming up, both on the road, with Arlington scheduled for Friday and Snohomish next Thursday.

Jackson was young last season and got even younger this spring as 17 freshmen showed up for tryouts.

“We got better this year,” Peacocke said. “Last year’s freshman class was really strong, too. Our young kids are really driving our program right now. There’s talent, but obviously there’s still some growth to take place.

Frosh first baseman Taylor Adams smashed her fourth home run of the season yesterday and has 20 RBI in 13 games with a .395 batting average.

“She’s a pretty special kid,” Peacocke said.

Jackson is batting .399 as a team. Senior outfielder Sarah Casel, a slapper with great speed, carries a .537 average and .609 on-base percentage.

“When she puts the ball on the ground, you’re not going to throw her out,” Peacocke said.

Junior catcher Kayla Ellis is hitting .512 with four doubles, three triples and 15 RBI.

Kristen Scott, a sophomore third baseman, has a .439 average.

Sophomore Sophie Frost is contributing with her arm and bat. She is the team’s main pitcher with a 9-2 record. 2.27 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 74 innings. She also is batting .479.

“For the most part, we’ve been a clutch hitting team,” Peacocke said. “We’ve been down a couple of times where we’ve continued to fight back. Typically, this is a team that’s not going to give up.”

And a team that is anxious to get back to its winning ways.

Bainbridge quietly goes about its business

The best way to describe the Bainbridge Spartans this season might be as silent assassins.

They typically let their bats and gloves do their talking for them So much so, that coach Liz McCloskey started one practice in the gym by telling her players they had to talk through every drill for the entire practice.

“It’s been a unique group this year,” McCloskey said. “They’re all very academic oriented and they’re very quiet. It’s very different for us as coaches.”

But one thing that’s not different is the team’s success.

After a season-opening, 5-4 loss to Central Kitsap, the Spartans won eight straight before running into that hot Holy Names squad yesterday.

Bainbridge has a winning tradition with seven consecutive trips to the 3A state tournament, winning the championship in 2009 and placing second in 2010 and ’11.

Last year’s squad was young, with just three senior starters, and just missed a trophy. But two of those seniors, pitcher Katie Raben and third baseman Erin Kinney, were four-year veterans and the other, catcher Emily Schneider, also left big shoes to fill.

But, as always, the expectations run high.

“No matter how many players we have coming back, we’re always going to make it work,” McCloskey said. “We’re going to continue the program that we’ve had the last nine years.”

While Raben had been a rock in the pitching circle, Bainbridge didn’t have to start from scratch there as Deahna King saw a lot of action at state as a freshman last season, throwing four of the team’s six games there. And senior Alison Reichert pitches, too, although she is the team’s primary shortstop and a four-year starter.

The team is still young. Reichert is one of just three seniors. Carolyn Williams is a third-year starter in the outfield and Catie Muir, another outfielder, is back in the lineup after taking last season off.

Sophomore first baseman Natalie Allen has been crushing the ball with a batting average right around .600. She had her third homer of the season yesterday. Junior second baseman Riley Gregoire is hitting .500 with just two strikeouts in 28 at bats.

Two freshmen have made the lineup – Megan Spray at third and Tiana Rabang in the outfield. Spray has shown power with a home run and two doubles, batting .350.

The Spartans pounded 15 hits against Holy Names, but didn’t get a lot of runs to show for them.

“We hit the ball hard, but right at people,” McCloskey said.

Holy Names just hit the ball hard, period, piling up 21 hits – including five by catcher Claire McCarthy, who homered twice and drove in 10 runs. TEN RUNS!

Bainbridge didn’t commit an error.

“I’m pleased with the way our defense is playing,” McCloskey said. “Errors are few and far between for us. Mental errors, not so much.”

The Spartans don’t have to wait long for another shot at Holy Names. The rematch is scheduled for tomorrow at Lower Woodland.

“Yesterday taught us a few things,” McCloskey said. “Obviously, we’re the two best teams in the league. There’s no doubt about that….Yesterday opened eyes for some kids.”

As always, the overall goal is to get back to state and make another run at a title.

“At the beginning of the year, we talked about how it doesn’t matter who we play, we have to focus on our game and how we play the game,” McCloskey said. “Nothing’s going to be handed to us and never has. Being as young as we are, it’s going to take a little extra work.”

But the belief system is already in place.

“We want to get back to state and like every team our goal is to win it,” McCloskey said. “We definitely plan to be back in (Lacey) vying for the state championship. It’s going to take some hard work, but I know we can do it and the kids believe it, so that’s half the battle right there.”

Games of note and a glance at some league races

One of the teams featured in last week’s notebook was Beamer, and the Titans had a big SPSL 4A South showdown with Puyallup last Friday.

Puyallup came away with the 1-0 victory to remain unbeaten in league play. The Vikings are now 9-0 and 11-0 overall. Pitcher Marissa Miller has been on fire and I plan to feature Puyallup in an upcoming notebook.

It was the first division loss for Beamer (7-1, 8-3), and the rematch is scheduled for Friday at Puyallup.

Tacoma continues to sit atop the SPSL North at 9-0 (12-0 overall). The Bears got a key 7-5 win over Kentwood last week. The Conquerors were 5-0 in league play at the time, but have since dropped thee of the past four – including a 4-3 decision to Mount Rainier. The lone win during that stretch was 1-0 over Kentridge.

I touched on the WesCo 4A races earlier, so now I’ll catch you up on the latest in WesCo 3A.

Meadowdale is 7-0 in the South Division (9-2 overall), with Glacier Peak (4-2, 6-7) and Mountlake Terrace (3-2, 6-6) in hot pursuit. The Mavs have beaten both this month (11-1 over Terrace, 5-4 over GP).

Marysville-Pilchuck heads the tight North at 6-1 (9-4 overall), followed by Everett (4-2, 5-8), Marysville-Getchell (3-3, 5-6) and Stanwood (3-4, 4-10). The Tomahawks beat Everett 8-6 a couple of weeks ago and the two meet again on May 9. Their lone league loss came against Meadowdale last Friday, 8-1.

Redmond continues to be the team to beat in KingCo 4A. The Mustangs are 7-0 in the Crest Division, 10-1 overall (look for something on them in the blog soon!). They have a big game tomorrow against Woodinville, which suffered just its second loss of the season yesterday against Issaquah, 6-4. The Falcons are 5-2 in the Crest Division, 10-2 overall. They had won five in a row since a 5-2 loss to Eastlake (5-2, 6-5).

The Crown Division appears to be a tossup.

I am not overly confident in the standings we show in KingCo 3A/2A, because some teams aren’t reporting scores. We list Lake Washington at 8-1 (10-1), Mount Si 6-1 (9-2) and Juanita 8-2 (10-5). LW plays at Mount Si tomorrow, looking to avenge an earlier 7-4 loss. Mount Si owes its lone league loss to Juanita, 9-4, and turned the tables last Friday with a 6-5 victory. So, that’s it for this week.

If you have ideas for future notebooks, please e-mail me at sringer@seattletimes.com.

Comments | More in Softball, Triple Play | Topics: Bainbridge, Jackson

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