Paige Houck earned a birthday serenade Tuesday night, and for good reason.
The Royal Palm Beach left fielder went 3-for-4 with two runs, and Chelsea Gibbins added three hits to lead the Wildcats to a 12-2 five-inning victory against Park Vista in a battle of ranked teams.
Houck, who turned 15 Tuesday, finished with a double and two singles for fourth-ranked Royal Palm, which finished with 15 hits.
“I told the girls tonight that on the first good pitch, drive the ball,” Wildcats coach Dave Hir said. “We put runners in motion again tonight — hit and runs — and drove the ball. Those things put pressure on a defense. It was an outstanding job by the girls.”
The Wildcats (12-4) wasted little time in getting their offense going, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly by Nicole Hayslip.
The play scored Houck, who led off the inning with a double.
Sixth-ranked Park Vista (9-3) appeared poised for a big inning in the second, putting runners on second and third with no outs. But Royal Palm Beach pitcher Jaime Tino (12-4) worked out of the jam, retiring the final three batters on two ground balls and a strikeout.
Tino also worked out of trouble in the third, recording her third and fourth strikeouts to strand a pair of Cobras’ runners and preserve the Wildcats’ 1-0 lead.
The senior helped her cause in the bottom of the third, lining an RBI single down the left-field line to score Royal Palm Beach’s fourth run.
The Wildcats added two more runs in the inning to take a 6-0 lead. Hayslip started the scoring with a two-run triple, and Phoenix Stricker closed it with an RBI double.
Royal Palm scored three more runs in the fourth to take a 9-0 lead, nearly working its way through the lineup for the second consecutive inning.
The Cobras struck for a pair of runs in the top of the fifth, but Royal Palm closed the game with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Gibbins ended the game with a two-out RBI single for the final margin
“Hats off to the girls tonight,” Hir said. “They were swinging the bats.”
No. 1 Jupiter 12, Palm Beach Central 0: Ally Costa, Shelby Russo and Maddie Leonard combined for seven hits and four runs and Costa and Leonard combined to strike out 10 as the Warriors shut down the Broncos.
No. 2 Palm Beach Gardens 7, Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas 5: Crystal Grimaldo homered and drove in three runs and Jaden Walker collected a hit and scored a run as the Gators (14-4) topped the Raiders in Palm Beach Gardens.
Dwyer 12, West Boca Raton 0: Laura Deaton was 3-for-3 with two RBIs, Sasha Judge went 2-for-2 with an RBI, and Alexa Jaloski pitched a shutout with two strikeouts as the Panthers routed the Bulls.
John I. Leonard 14, Santaluces 4: Elizabeth Rambo had a double and a triple as the Lancers handled the Chiefs (5-7). Samantha Federer went 3-for-3 with two singles and a triple for Santaluces.
Suncoast 16, Port St. Lucie 1 (4): Alexis Swearingen was 2-for-2 with a grand slam and Amaya King went 3-for-3 with two runs scored as the Chargers (8-6) coasted past the Jaguars in Riviera Beach.
Lake Worth Christian 4, Benjamin 0: Brianna Robine tripled in the Defenders’ victory over the Buccaneers.