ZEPHYRHILLS — Zephyrhills defeated River Ridge last spring in the Class 4A, District 8 championship game. Judging by Friday night's outcome, there might not be a title rematch.
"I don't know if we'll face them in districts or not," River Ridge coach Ernie Beck said after his team's 10-1 defeat of Zephyrhills.
The Royal Knights (6-1) dominated from the outset, taking a 9-1 lead through three innings, relying on starter Lakyn Shull's command on the mound and capitalizing on an uncharacteristic six errors by the host Bulldogs.
"We're just not defensively good enough to beat good teams right now," Zephyrhills coach Craig Milburn said. "Not by any means are we the same as last year."
Shull (3-1) struck out 11 and had a stretch where she retired 15 straight batters.
"She pitched very, very well," Beck said. "She kept them off balance."
River Ridge struck quickly, taking a 3-0 lead in the first on three hits and three Zephyrhills errors. Morgan Toll led off with a single, advanced to third on an overthrow and scored on a groundout. Amber Jones doubled and scored on Shull's triple with Shull racing home on a throwing error.
Zephyrhills (3-3) came right back with Anissa Johns reaching on an infield single and scoring on Briana Blanyar's base hit. The Bulldogs might have had another run, but Lauren Pasquale, who walked, was tagged out at the plate on Blanyar's hit.
"They could have come back with two runs on us, but we threw that second girl out at the plate."
River Ridge scored four in the second, an inning highlighted by Toll's RBI triple and Jones' run-scoring single. Toll added a two-run single in the third.