Pembroke Pines Charter pitcher Claire Blount has been, without a doubt, extremely valuable to the Jaguars’ success over the past two years.
“It’s not only her pitching, but her leadership and her desire to win,” Pines Charter coach Tom Fadul said. “She’s the whole package.”
Blount, a sophomore, jump-started her team Friday night at the plate and with a four-hit, eight-strikeout complete game that lifted the host Jaguars to an 11-1, six-inning victory over Doral Academy in the Region 4-6A final at Silver Lakes Park South.
Pines Charter (19-6-1) clinched its third consecutive berth in the state final four (seventh overall) and will face either Lake City Columbia or St. Johns Creekside on Wednesday night in a Class 6A state semifinal in Vero Beach.
The Jaguars are vying for a second state title in three seasons.
“The kids have worked through some injuries this year, and mostly everyone is healed now,” Fadul said. “The kids have kept plugging away and haven’t quit.”
Doral Academy (20-7) was vying for its first trip to state.
But from the outset, Pines Charter’s lineup hit Firebirds starter Annie Palmeiro, scoring eight runs in the first two innings.
Blount started the onslaught and went 3 for 4 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored. Right fielder Kayla Borges went 1 for 2 with a home run and two RBI, and second baseman Lindsey Fischback went 1 for 3 with a single and a run scored.
Blount did the rest by limiting Doral’s lineup and preventing any big innings.
The Firebirds’ only serious threat came in the top of the fourth when third baseman Jennifer Acevedo hit a double to left to score Melody Grafals with their only run of the game.
Despite allowing two of the next three batters to reach, Blount pitched her way out of the jam with a strikeout and a line-drive out.
“Our goal was to get runs in the first inning because we knew [Doral] was a good team and we’d need to hit well to stay ahead of them,” Blount said.
DOR 000 100 – 1 4 2
PPC 260 003 – 11 7 0
WP: Claire Blount (19-6-1). LP: Annie Palmeiro.
• Region 4-7A final — St. Thomas Aquinas 2, Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer 0: The Raiders will head back to Dodgertown to defend their state title next week after senior Meghan King pitched a two-hitter while striking out 16.
The visiting Raiders (28-2) scored their runs early, getting both in the top of the first.
Aquinas coach Bryan Baucom wasn’t happy that that was all his team could muster against the Panthers (21-9).
“Again, Meghan pitched a great game, and we weren’t great offensively,” said Baucom, whose team won the title last year and is going for its fourth in his 20 years.
“We want to move on, but when we get to Vero [Beach], we have to hit better. We have to help our pitcher out, as I’ve been saying all year.”
Aquinas had runners at second and third with one out in the first, scoring both runs on Rachel Collins’ liner up the middle of the infield.
After that, it was all King. Dwyer only really threatened once, getting its first runners into scoring position in the sixth.
With runners at second and third with one out, King got another strikeout and a groundout to end the threat. King (18-2) struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh.
The Raiders next play a Class 7A semifinal on Friday.
Aquinas 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 2-3-0
Dwyer 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0-2-2
WP: Meghan King (18-2); LP: Caitlyn Roberson (18-9). STA 28-2; Dwyer 21-9.
• Region 3-8A final — Cypress Bay 6, Lake Worth Park Vista 4 (11 innings): If it was high drama at its best you were looking for on Friday night, Park Vista High School in Boynton Beach was the place to be.
In a Class 8A Region 3 softball final that lasted more than three hours and had more twists, turns and swings than anyone could have imagined, it was the Lightning of Cypress Bay pulling out a thrilling victory over the Park Vista Cobras.
And with it, Cypress Bay, a team that lost the state title game by a single run a year ago and has made it its mission to get back and get things right, will get that chance now. The Lightning (21-6) will take on either Valrico Bloomindale, Winter Park or Vero Beach on Wednesday at Dodgertown in Vero Beach in an 8A state semifinal.
CB 021 001 000 02 – 6 9 1
PV 000 011 200 00 – 4 7 3
WP: Sarah Maloney (16-3); LP: Jaime Scher
Top performers: CB – Maggie Scott 3 for 6; Lexi DiEmmanuele 3 for 5, 2 RBI; Maddie Gott 2 for 4.
• Region 4-5A final — Plantation American Heritage at Eustis, ppd.: Inclement weather forced the game to be postponed to Saturday at 2 p.m. at Eustis.