At this point of the season, the Class A North title still can be won by several teams.
Howell made sure to stay in the hunt on Friday, as the Rebels (11-4, 6-2) scored once in the first and twice in the second en route to a 5-2 victory over Middletown North (9-6, 6-3).
After Paige Eckert doubled in Annemarie Bartow with the first run, Howell went up 3-0 when Bartow singled to right field with the bases loaded to bring in Emily DeGenova and Jacquie Coulahan brought in Haylie Barnes on a sacrifice fly to left.
Payleigh Behan’s infield single scored Riley Kernan, who was 2-for-3 and doubled to lead off the bottom of the second, and an error allowed Christine Gebhardt, who went 3-for-3 and led off the third with a single, to score the Lions’ second run to make it 3-2.
But in the top of the fourth, the Rebels pushed the lead back to two when Jacquie Coulahan singled to score Taylor Mennie, who had reached on an error to lead off the at-bat, before Bridget Coulahan added an RBI double, scoring Vivian Montgomery from first base, to cap the scoring in the top of the sixth.
Audrie Thomas ended up 2-for-2 for North.
OCEAN 7, RED BANK 5: With the Bucs (8-7, 4-5) leading by a run through three, the Spartans (11-4, 8-2) scored twice in the bottom of the fourth when Morgan Walsh whacked an RBI double to tie the B North contest and Sabrina Batista gave her team the lead for good with a groundout RBI. In the sixth, Walsh doubled in Giovanna Russomanno to cap the scoring. Walsh finished 3-for-3 with a trio of doubles, while Russomanno was 3-for-4. Briana Calabrese was 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles for Red Bank. Michaela Pembleton got the win by striking out 11 and scattering seven hits.
MARLBORO 5, BRICK MEMORIAL 3: Tied through five, Marlboro (7-8) put runners on second and third before Brooke Kaminski, who was 3-for-4, swatted her second double of the game to score both runners, and Brianna Brienza set Memorial down in order in the top of the seventh for the nondivisional victory over Memorial (5-8).
Brienza, who was 2-for-3 at the plate, struck out eight while allowing six hits and no walks.
SJ VIANNEY 3, HOLMDEL 0: Winning pitcher Ashley Ventura singled in Erica Krumbine and Jackie Gallagher, before Jess Carlucci, who went 3-for-3, slugged her third homer of the season to center field, as the Lancers (13-0, 11-0) registered their 10th straight shutout.
In the circle, Ventura allowed three hits and no walks while fanning eight.
CENTRAL 11, SOUTHERN 5: Sabrina DeCamp went 3-for-4, and Stephanie Pepper scattered seven hits and walked one while whiffing 11, as the Golden Eagles (9-6) scored the nondivisional victory over the Rams (5-8).
Pepper was 2-for-4 at the plate, which included an RBI double during a three-run fourth that sealed the win. Fran Aimone ended up 3-for-3 with 2 RBI.
MANALAPAN 11, COLTS NECK 3: Cara Settanni went 3-for-3 and Rachel Hrevnak and Brittany Piccillo each added two hits, while Hrevnak scattered nine hits and fannned eight, as the Braves (5-7, 4-7) captured the victory in A North.
Manalapan broke open a scoreless tie in the third, scoring nine times. Meghan Royle, Sabrina Barsky and Molly Jackson each went 3-for-4 for the Cougars (2-9, 2-7).
KEANSBURG 18, LAKEWOOD 8: Stephanie Walters went 4-for-5 and Lexi Espino finished 3-for-3, while winning pitcher Bobbie Burdick scattered six hits and struck out four, as the Titans (7-6) cruised to a nondivisional victory.
Kalena Gonzalez went 3-for-3 and Yamilex Rodriguez had two hits and 3 RBI for the Piners.