News-Argus Softball Player of the Year -- Jenny Jackson
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on June 12, 2005 2:06 AM
PIKEVILLE -- It wasn't too uncommon to see a big smile come to the face of Charles B. Aycock senior ace Jenny Jackson before she fired a pitch toward the catcher.
It wasn't ever due to a lack of focus or concern about her team winning. She was just relaxed and having fun.
Oh yeah, and dominant too.
Over her career, Jackson went a combined 64-9 with four of her losses coming at the Class 3-A N.C. High School Athletic Association final four at Walnut Creek and three of the remaining five losses coming by just one run.
She finished with a school-record 721 strikeouts with a miniscule, .049 earned run average -- tossing 41 shutouts, 12 no-hitters and four perfect games. At the plate she batted .397 over her career.
Jackson, who will have her jersey retired at a home football game next fall, followed all-state seasons as a sophomore and junior with another stellar campaign as a senior. She went 16-3 on the mound with an earned run average under .050 with over 200 strikeouts and just eight walks.
At the final four, Jackson yielded just six hits in 16 innings and only two earned runs as the Golden Falcons captured the eastern regional title, before falling to Kings Mountain and West Rowan in in double-elimination play.
Jackson, a Western Carolina signee, led Aycock at the plate -- batting over .400.
For all of these accomplishments and her ability to help guide Aycock to the final four for the third time in four seasons, Jackson is the News Argus Player of the Year.
"I'm going to miss all the girls. I enjoyed playing for Coach West all these years," Jackson said. "These are the girls I've grown up playing with. It's been a great experience."
Sure, Jackson is dissapointed that she and her teammates never brought home the ultimate prize -- a state title. But, she's proud of the overall experience and the fact that she and her teammates have established one of the most winning programs in Wayne County in any sport.
"I was dissapointed, because I thought we could win it all this year. We just needed to string some hits together. But, I'm glad we got to go to Walnut Creek three times," she said. "When we first started playing, all you heard about was baseball. Baseball this and baseball that. Now softball is just as big here. I'm proud of the respect softball has got. It feels really good."
As she takes her game to Western Carolina, she's looking forward to helping the first-year Catamount program under coach Megan Smith.
"I'm excited. I just started my workout this week. I started lifting weights and I've never really done that before. I'm running a lot more than I was," Jackson said. "I could just dominate with my speed a lot in high school, but now I'm going to have to use more pitches. This year I finally got to where I could throw a rise ball. I think I mixed my pitches more.
"I feel a lot more complete with my pitches."
With her high school career finished, it's hard to imagine a more complete student athlete.
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