ZEPHYRHILLS — The girls huddled around their head coach in rightfield. They listened and laughed.
Spirits were up and smiles in abundance at the end of three road games in four nights.
River Ridge won them all, capping the tough trip with a 10-3 victory Thursday at Zephyrhills. That was a convincing followup to Wednesday's 4-3 win in 10 innings at Pasco. And the Royal Knights beat Wesley Chapel 14-0 on Monday.
"When you're coming into this week and you look at what you have (to face)," River Ridge coach Ernie Beck said, "to go 3-0 against quality teams, that's a great effort."
Now the Royal Knights (10-1) can focus on the highly anticipated first meeting with Land O'Lakes on Tuesday.
The matchup is key in the Sunshine Athletic Conference race. With a win, the Gators will hold a nice edge. If the Knights win, four teams will have one conference loss.
River Ridge trailed Zephyrhills 1-0 in the first inning. But pitcher Samantha Stahl put the Royal Knights ahead with a two-run double. Then Sarah Simon hit a single to leftfield to score two runs for a 4-1 lead in the second inning.
"We were really pumped against (Zephyrhills)," Simon said. "We really wanted to beat them. … We thought this would be extremely hard."
The Bulldogs (9-4) could bring home only one run in the third with the bases loaded and no outs. The top two batters in the fifth walked, but Royal Knights freshman Lakyn Shull struck out the next three in relief of Stahl to end the threat.
Simon had three hits, a walk, a run scored and six RBIs.
"You don't want to pitch to her when she's up at bat," Beck said. "I'm surprised they did."