The Trenton softball team had an unbelievable run from 2019-2021.
The Tigers went 57-1 during that span, including a 27-0 record in 2019 and a 20-1 mark last season, both ending with Class 1A state titles.
They were 10-0 and nationally ranked during the COVID-19 shortened season in 2020.
However, coach Todd Bryant retired at the end of last season and the Tigers lost a lot of talent from last year’s state championship team, including pitcher Darian Ingram, who was named Florida’s Miss Softball.
“It’s been a pretty easy transition,” said first-year coach Clint Anderson, who took over after serving as an assistant under Bryant. “Our kids are good kids, they’re coachable, but they’re young.”
In their last game on Monday at state-ranked Williston, a 9-8 walk-off win by the Red Devils, Trenton started two seniors, four sophomores, two freshmen, and a seventh-grader.
Emma Brideson, who started the game in the circle, is also just a freshman.
“We lose two after this year, and we’ll be a good team next year,” Anderson said. “If they’re going to get us, they’re going to get us this year because I don’t think they’ll get us next year.”
Some teams have been able to get Trenton (7-6) this year, but it hasn’t come easy.
Union County (Lake Butler), which is ranked No. 1 in Class 1A, had to score three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat Trenton, 13-12, on March 4, after visiting Trenton scored three in the top of the seventh to take the lead.
“We’ve lost three games in the last inning ( against Union County, Taylor County and Williston),” Anderson said. “They have to learn how to finish. Every one of those games we fought back but didn’t finish.”
The Tigers held a 3-0 lead at Class 3A Suwannee (Live Oak) on March 29, but the host Bulldogs scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to win it 4-3.
“They’ve played a lot of ball but they’re still young,” Anderson said. “We’ve got a lot of 15-year-olds on the team and two 18-year-olds, and they’re the only ones that drive. The rest have to walk from the school down to the ballfield because they can’t drive. So, we’re really young.”
The loss to Williston on Monday snapped a four-game winning streak, which included an 11-1 win against top-ranked Union County last Friday and a 9-2 win at 5A Gainesville High last Tuesday.
As a team, Trenton is batting .276 and has a 3.30 earned run average in the circle.
Senior Shaylyn Parrish leads the Tigers at the plate with a .359 batting average, 14 hits, including six of the team’s home runs, and a whopping 26 runs driven in through 13 games.
Jordan Douglas, who helped lead the Trenton girls basketball team to its seventh straight district title this past winter and was named to Mainstreet’s All Area basketball team, leads the team with three doubles. The senior has a .420 on-base percentage.
There is some talent among the underclassmen as sophomore Brandy Dees is hitting .343 with one home run. She’s second on the team with 11 runs scored and leads the Tigers with five stolen bases.
Sophomore Hailey Blankenship is batting .351 and is second on the team with 13 hits.
The youth really shows up in the circle.
Addison Allaire leads the team with nine appearances. The seventh-grader is 6-1 with a 2.38 ERA and has a 3-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio (75 strikeouts, 25 walks), while Brideson (1-4, 4.51 ERA) has only walked 10 batters in 35.2 innings pitched and also has a 3-to-1 ratio.
Trenton, which took some time off for its prom on Thursday, will host 1A No. 7 Williston in a rematch at 7 p.m. on Monday, followed by a home game on Tuesday vs. 1A No. 5 Lafayette (Mayo).
Outside of 1A No. 2 Dixie County (Cross City), which swept Trenton (5-2 on Feb. 25 and 7-4 on March 18), the Tigers are the team to beat in 1A-District 7 and are ranked No. 13 in the state.
Upcoming games against Gainesville, Suwannee, and 3A Santa Fe, who they beat 5-2 on Feb. 22, will be good tests for the postseason, which starts the first week of May with the district tournaments.
The two-time defending state champions haven’t lost a postseason game since falling to Wewahitchka, 2-1, in the 2018 Class 1A state championship game.