Claire Blount has been a marvel of consistency in big games throughout her pitching career at Pembroke Pines Charter.
On Thursday night, Blount helped the Jaguars secure their first BCAA Big 8 tournament championship by blanking St. Thomas Aquinas 1-0 at Silver Lakes South Park in Pembroke Pines.
Blount struck out 10 during the shutout that helped Pines Charter beat the Raiders (17-4), who entered the tournament as the top-ranked team in Class 8A, having beaten the nation’s top-ranked team, Oakleaf, during their run to the Kissimmee Klassic gold bracket title last week.
Pines Charter (18-3), ranked No. 4 in the state in Class 7A, scored its lone run in the top of the fourth when freshman Eliza Gonzalez homered off Aquinas pitcher Brooke Stock.
“It’s great to play a team of that caliber especially with districts coming up,” Pines Charter coach Tom Fadul said. “Eliza stayed on that pitch and got a good hold on it. “Claire was fabulous tonight and dug in when it counted.”
The Jaguars have five freshman, including Gonzalez, in their starting lineup this season who have played key roles.
Pines Charter is vying to reach state for the fourth time in five seasons and win its third state title during that span.
Blount has been at the center of Pines Charter’s two state titles in 2012 and 2014, which also included a state runner-up finish in 2013.
Her effort Thursday followed another 10-strikeout game against Monarch in the semifinals, and a solid night at the plate against McArthur in the quarterfinals in which she went 3 for 4 with a home run and an RBI.
Aquinas nearly came back to tie the score late when Lindsey Gehring led off the bottom of the seventh with a double to right center. Blount worked around it, striking out Sidney Barron and Megan Patterson and coaxing Janai Conklin to fly out to left to end the game.
“They’re a great team and Claire is a great pitcher,” Aquinas coach Bryan Baucom said. “We just didn’t make enough plays tonight when we needed it. We had chances to take the lead, but didn’t and they got the one big hit and that made the difference.”
PPC 000 100 0 – 1
STA 000 000 0 – 0
WP: Claire Blount (9-2). LP: Brooke Stock (13-4).