VERO BEACH -- Claire Blount felt like she was locked in from the moment she threw her first pitch Thursday night.
The focus spread throughout the Pembroke Pines Charter softball team.
And two hours later, the Jaguars were celebrating a state championship.
Blount struck out eight and recorded her team’s and her 13th shutout of the season to help Pines Charter secure the Class 6A state title with a 3-0 win over Lake Region at Historic Dodgertown.
“I feel 10 times better than I did as a freshman,” said Blount, a sophomore. “I was in my zone the whole game.”
Blount’s freshman season ended with a frustrating state championship game loss to Lake City Columbia.
This year, Blount was at the center of the traditional pile-up celebration at the pitching circle as Pines Charter won its second state title in the
past three seasons.
“This is awesome,” Blount said. “Our team is amazing. We’re led by good people, and we have a good system here.”
The Jaguars (22-6) became the fourth Broward County school to win multiple state championships, joining Plantation American Heritage, Hollywood Christian and St. Thomas Aquinas.
“I’m just ecstatic and numb right now,” said Pines Charter coach Tom Fadul, who has guided the Jaguars to their two state titles and seven state final four appearances overall. “The girls did their jobs and supported each other throughout the whole game.”
Blount wasn’t threatened much throughout the game.
But she ran into some trouble in the top of the sixth when Lake Region led off the inning with a double from junior center fielder Kelsey Armstrong and a single by freshman shortstop Jordan Barnes.
After a brief talk at the mound with her coaches and teammates, Blount recovered and retired the next three batters in order without giving up a run.
“I felt confident to throw what I could throw because I was confident in my defense,” Blount said.
Blount wasn’t the only clutch performer for Pines Charter.
The Jaguars scored a run in the third and two in the fourth innings to break the scoreless stalemate, and theyu did it with two-out hits.
Junior Sophia Devesa drove a single to left field to score the first run with two outs in the third.
With a runner on second and two outs in the fourth, freshman Samantha Feinstein delivered a single to left to make it 2-0. Two batters later, Blount drove a pitch into center field to drive in another run.
“I knew what to expect from the pitcher so I just went with the pitch,” Feinstein said.
Added Devesa: “We needed a run there to keep [Blount] comfortable on the mound. Winning two state championships in three years is an unbelievable feeling.”
LR 000 000 0 – 0 5 1
PC 001 200 x – 3 8 2
WP: Claire Blount (22-6). LP: Haley Wiseman.