Trenton softball looks to repeat

The Trenton softball team is back in the state semifinals.

On Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m., the Tigers will play Branford in the Class 1A state semifinals at Legends Way Ball Fields in Clermont.

Trenton has only lost one game since the end of the 2018 season. But instead of going for a possible three-peat, Trenton will instead look to repeat.

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Following a loss to Wewahitchka in the Class 1A state championship game that year, the Tigers went 27-0 to win the 1A title in 2019 and were 10-0 last year when COVID-19 shut things down.

“The opportunity to get back to the final four has been a nightmare filled with apprehension turned into a dream of reality,” Trenton coach Todd Bryant said. “On March 13, 2020, we got off the bus with a 10-0 record and were ranked in the top 25 in the nation and never got to play again.”

Bryant said the 2020 team was his best team ever, better than the 27-0 team that won state. But the Tigers never got the chance to defend their title.

“We felt like the 2020 final four would be the culmination of all our hard work,” Bryant said. “Instead it was a punch in the gut delivered by COVID.”

They are 18-1 this year and have won 55 of their last 56 games. Their only loss was in extra innings to Class 4A region finalist Baker County a month and a half ago.

Trenton shut out Dixie County 4-0 in the region final behind senior Darian Ingram. The Florida Atlantic University signee tossed a two-hit shutout and struck out 11 batters.

She is one of four Division I signees on the team looking to finish out their careers on top.

Ingram has been dominant in the circle. She is 16-1 with a 0.42 earned run average.

In 100 innings pitched, Ingram has given up just six earned runs, is averaging two strikeouts per inning, and has a 4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio (53 walks, 202 strikeouts). She’s also batting .422 this season.

Her sister Adrian (an FAU signee) is batting .439 with a team-leading three triples.

Stetson signee Keeli Zingaro leads the team with a .536 average and a team-leading 10 home runs.

Catcher Lillian Wilkerson, who signed with Florida Gulf Coast University, missed most of the season due to an ACL tear during volleyball, but her return was felt immediately.

Bryant said a lot of people have doubted this team all year.

“We struggled early trying to build a team around our vacated catcher position,” Bryant said. “We didn’t get Lillian back until April and it’s made all the difference. Our younger kids continue to get better. Our older kids are doing their job. We are coming together when good teams are supposed to.”

Branford won its first playoff game in school history on May 6, then advanced to its first final four last Tuesday with a 14-3 win against Taylor County (Perry).

The Buccaneers (15-4), winners of seven in a row, are batting .334 as a team.

Senior Cera McElreth leads the way with a .515 average. She also leads the team in hits (34), RBI (19), runs scored (28), and doubles (10).

Laila Arnold, an 8th-grader, is 14-2 with a 2.30 ERA. She has 134 strikeouts in 106.1 innings pitched.

“We believe our best opportunity to beat Branford is to continue to pitch well and have good at bats,” Bryant said. “Darian Ingram gives us a chance to win every time she gets in the circle.”

Trenton has also been good defensively with a .925 fielding percentage.

“If we play defense behind her and get some run support early, I like our chances,” Bryant said. “Our kids have continued to buy into our game plans.”

The winner will face either Jay or Wewahitchka for the Class 1A state title on Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 p.m.

“To get this opportunity again is a blessing to say the least,” Bryant said. “We are not taking it for granted.”

Game details

Softball State Semifinals at Legends Way Ball Fields in Clermont

Class 1A – Trenton vs. Branford, 2:30 p.m. Tuesday

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