Miracle comeback lifts Trenton to 1A softball title 

Trenton Tigers 1A state champs
The Trenton Tigers claimed their third softball state title in six years with a huge comeback win Saturday.
Photo by Marty Pallman

For 6 2/3 innings of Saturday’s 1A state championship game, the Trenton Tigers just couldn’t get the big hit they needed. 

Down to their final out, the Tigers came roaring back and grabbed their third state softball title since 2019. 

Trenton (23-2) scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh and two in the eighth to stun Branford and claim a 6-5 victory in the 1A state championship game at Legends Way Ball Fields in Clermont. 

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“My team never gives up, and I am super proud of them,” Trenton coach Clint Anderson said. “I knew they had it in them. It took us a little while to come alive, but we did in that seventh inning.” 

Branford pitcher Laila Arnold frustrated Trenton for six innings, escaping bases-loaded jams in the fourth and sixth innings. The Tigers stranded eight runners through the first six innings and entered the seventh trailing 4-0. 

Jessica Johnson and Presley Akins both singled and moved up to second and third on a wild pitch. Addison Allaire brought in a run with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1, but the Tigers were down to their final out. 

Then things really got crazy. After Brandy Dees walked to put runners at first and third, senior Olivia Weaver crushed a triple to the gap in right center to score two runs and cut the Trenton deficit to 4-3. 

Still down to their final out, junior pitcher EmmaLee Brideson lined a double to the fence in right field to score Weaver and tie the game. 

“It felt good, because I’ve been in a hitting slump all season,” Brideson said. “My teammates believe in me, so they let me hit again, and that makes me believe in my team.” 

Branford took the lead back in the top of the eighth as extra runner Morgan Brennan scored on a Trenton throwing error. 

In the bottom half, Trenton took advantage of a Branford error to score Aubrey Brown and tie the game again at 5-5. Courtesy runner Tristan Layfield advanced to third, and Akins bunted for a base hit and the celebration began for the Tigers. 

Trenton Tigers coach Clint Anderson
Photo by Marty Pallman Trenton coach Clint Anderson lifts the 1A state championship trophy.

“We figured since we were the home team, we had a bit of an advantage in extra innings,” Anderson said. 

Branford had built the 4-0 lead behind Cloey Criggall and Jesse Frierson. Criggall had two hits and scored two runs, including an inside the park homer in the third, while Frierson had two hits and two RBI. 

Branford knocked Trenton starter Allaire from the game in the fifth, and Brideson came in and shut down Branford over the last 3 1/3 innings. 

“EmmaLee came in and shut down Branford,” Anderson said. “I had plenty of faith in her coming in. I was like Emma can go. She’s a fantastic pitcher.” 

Trenton’s comeback sent Branford (24-7) to a second straight loss in the state championship game. But this one hurt more, being one out away, according to Branford coach Oscar Saavedra. 

“It’s painful,” Saavedra said. “They work so hard, and to lose in that fashion…I would rather lose 10-0.” 

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