The showdown is set.
The match-up that many thought would take place early in the season is scheduled for Tuesday night.
The Trenton softball team will host Dixie County (Cross City) in a Class 1A Region Final for the right to advance to next week’s final four in Clermont.
Last week, Trenton defeated Hawthorne, 21-0, in the regional semifinals to advance. The Tigers (17-1), who scored 21 runs in the first inning, are the defending 2019 Class 1A state champions.
Trenton, which has only lost to Class 4A Baker County (Glen St. Mary) this season in extra innings, is ranked No. 1 in the state by both MaxPreps and Miracle Sports. They have only lost one game since the end of the 2018 season.
“We are playing well but we are fighting some end of the year fatigue and illness,” said Trenton coach Todd Bryant. “We can’t seem to get everyone healthy at the same time.”
Dixie County is ranked second in the state.
Last week, the Bears defeated Williston, 1-0, behind sophomore pitcher Bria Hinkle’s one hit shutout. She struck out nine for Dixie County (19-2), which is 0-2 against Trenton this season.
“Our defense was amazing,” said Dixie County coach Greg Wimberley. “Offensively we had runners in scoring position throughout the game but Williston’s pitcher did a great job of making us swing at her pitches.”
The only run came on a solo home run by the Bears’ No. 2 hitter Emily Chewning.
“Luckily, she is very patient and forces pitchers to throw her good pitches and she got one over the center of the plate and hit it over the fence, for her first ever home run” Wimberley said. “It was an excellent defensive game.”
Trenton defeated Dixie County, 4-2, in the District 7 championship game on April 29. Keeli Zingaro, a Stetson signee, hit a 2-run home run in the 7th inning to win it for the Tigers.
The Tigers also defeated the Bears, 3-1, on March 12.
“Very simply, we must be patient at the plate, we must make them throw good pitches, and we must put together consecutive hits,” Wimberley said. “It will take more than one batter to beat them. Defensively, we need to do what we’ve done in the first two games, continue to pitch great, play great defense and control the runners when they get on base and we must play error free.”
Wimberley said the biggest thing is that he must coach better.
“They simply out coached me in the first two games,” he said. “The players are as close to even as you can get, so I have to step up my game in this one and not put my players in bad situations.”
The Tigers hope to ride the arm of Florida Atlantic University signee Darian Ingram, who struck out 15 batters in the district semifinals against Chiefland and 11 against Dixie County in the championship game.
“Good pitching and timely hitting will be the key for us,” Bryant said. “We have to be disciplined at the plate and stay with our game plan. We did a pretty good job in our last meeting, but we missed some opportunities. We have to score when we get runners in position.”
The Bears will counter with Hinkle, who is 11-2 this season with a 1.07 earned run average. She has struck out 136 and only walked 11 in 91.2 innings pitched.
“It’s going to be an awesome game,” Wimberley said.
Tuesday, May 11
Softball Regional Final
Class 1A – Dixie County (Cross City) at Trenton, 7 p.m.
Class 1A – Taylor County (Perry) at Branford, 7 p.m.