Branford softball team punches their Class 1A ticket to their first state championship, 2-1; Dixie County falls 6-2

Branford “ace” Laila Arnold threw a complete game in the victory
Branford 2 Jay 1
Branford 2 Jay 1(WCJB)
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 12:59 AM EDT
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CLERMONT, Fla. (WCJB) - Branford’s formula of winning involves stellar pitching and clutch hitting. It pays off as they head to their first state championship in program history after 2-1 win over defending champion Jay.

The Buccaneers (24-6) sent Laila Arnold (13-2, 1.28 ERA) to the circle. She did not disappoint as Arnold pulled off a complete game performance including six shutout innings. In the bottom of the sixth inning, runner on third for Jesse Frierson. Frierson hits a RBI single to center and stretched it into a triple. Alexandra Whitfield followed it up with a well-timed bunt that led Frierson home for the 2nd run in the inning, 2-0.

The Royals (16-12) scored in the top of the seventh inning with a sacrifice fly, 2-1. However, Arnold shut the door on the defending champions’ rally.

Branford head coach Oscar Saavedra said about the importance of the win, “It’s a dream for all of us, for our school. We have the community always here. supporting us. Branford has put in so much time with us. You know they support us and they love us. It was a great crowd, we want to win it for us and for the town of Branford.”

As for Dixie County, their season ended in the Class 1A state semifinal for the second year in a row, 6-2 against Liberty County. The Bulldogs (20-8) took a 1-0 lead. The Bears (21-6) in the bottom of the first inning tied it at 1 off Bria Hinkle’s bunt as Ava Bechtold scored. The game was tied at 2 until the top of the fifth inning when Liberty County takes a 4-2 lead off a two-run single and ended it with a two-run homer in the seventh inning.

The Bears finish the season at 21-6.

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