The Milford Buccaneers have qualified for the DIAA Baseball State Tournament in each of the past three seasons. However, they haven’t been able to get past the opening round of the tournament, something this year’s group of Buccaneers looks to change.
Hoping to build upon last seasons’ 12-6 finish, backed by a strong returning core of players, Milford hopes 2018 is a banner year for the program.
The Bucs will be without six seniors who played vital roles within the team last year, however they enter this season with 10 returnees, all of whom saw plenty of time on the diamond last year.
Seniors Bryce Greenly, Caden Oplinger, Cason Rios and Zachary Winckoski are all back from last year, as are Brock Hilligoss, Kahlier Hitchens, Caden Stanley, and Jaxson Turner making up the Bucs’ junior class.
Meanwhile, underclassmen Ashton Jerman and standout pitcher Chad Reichold also return after their freshman campaigns.
Reichold, along with Hilligoss, was one of Milford’s leaders on the mound last season. As a freshman, Reichold started the team’s playoff game against Salesianum where he pitched a complete game, allowing just three runs off six hits in a 65 pitch performance on the mound.
Despite losing some big-bats in the likes of James Kucharzyk and Abraham Mow to graduation, the Bucs expect some good at-bats this season from what should be a solid lineup.
“HIlligoss and Reichold will be counted on heavily on the mound this season,” said Milford Head Coach Nick Brannan. “Greenly, Oplinger and Stanley will be looked upon to pace our offense.”
With a lot of experienced players back this season, Brannan also looks toward the returnees to help the newer players become part of the team as they try to carve their own roles.
“Several players have multiple years under their belt within the program,” Brannan said. “The expectation is that they serve as mentors for the players who are just breaking in.”
Part of that mentorship is building a bond, something Brannan believes is one of the most important keys to success for his team this year. Heading into the 2018 campaign, Brannan says his team’s work ethic and dedication have stood out most.
“Developing a sense of community within the program is something which we’ve placed a premium,” Brannan said. “We expect our players to demand each other’s best and right now, we see more heart and hustle from top to bottom than we have seen in some time, it’s exciting and refreshing.”