Last season, the Milford Buccaneers softball program made an improbable run in the DIAA Softball State Tournament, winning the state title.
With a new year beginning this week, the Lady Bucs are back to defend their championship.
Like any team, Milford must deal with some change. They’ll be without four standouts from last year, in Rajene Bowe, Nia Bowe, Megan Fry and Genesis Chamberlayne, four players who were integral parts of their championship run.
“Rajene, Nia, Megan and Gen provided great leadership for our younger players last season and it was great to see their four years of hard work, on and off the field, pay off,” said Milford Head Coach Sean Brannan. “You don’t just replace any of those young ladies; what they accomplished as seniors and what they meant to this team are irreplaceable.”
This year’s lineup features a talented group of three or four year starters, including all-state at second base, Darby Brennan, all-state catcher CJ Kohel, Mo Abbot in the circle, Morgan Petty, moving from the outfield to shortstop, Macey Myers at the hot corner along with Kyha Reynolds, Kalaysia Reynolds and Julia Reed.
“There is a saying that ‘tradition never graduates’ and Milford Softball has worked very hard to create a great tradition of success,” Brennan said. “Being in a position to reload this season instead of rebuilding after a championship is truly a great opportunity.”
While the Lady Bucs must move forward without several players who helped lead them to a title last season, Brannan believes this year’s team has the talent and experience necessary to be among the state’s best again.
“All are leaders on our team and they have tremendous work ethic and passion to keep moving our tradition forward,” Brannan said. “At some point during the 2017 season each one provided a spark for our team. Their experience in big games and understanding the daily grind are huge in helping our younger players understand what it means to be a Milford Softball players.”
With a target now firmly on their backs, Brannan says the team will embrace that challenge, but won’t let it shape how they approach their season.
“Going from hunter to the hunted is an interesting position to be in,” Brennan said. “I think many teams who are in that position and make that their focus lose out on what made them successful in the first place.”
“The banner that was put on our dug-out to recognize last year’s accomplishment is something very special and really is nice to look at. Their accomplishment will stand forever. However, this is 2018 and our focus of getting one percent better everyday while constantly looking to fundamentally improve our game is the foundation of our program and what we work on everyday. Our focus is always on our own approach to the game no matter who we play or the circumstance.”
With last year’s momentous title run still clear in their minds, this year’s team knows what it takes to be a champion, an advantage few teams have heading into the 2018 season.
“Our team knows that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication in order to punch that ticket to the dance,” Brennan said. “We believe that with everyone working together and maintaining a positive approach, we can achieve that goal. Once you’re able to get to the dance, we showed last year that anything is possible no matter the seed.”
The Lady Bucs will play their home opener this Saturday morning, hosting Middletown at 11 a.m.