By Kevin Eickman
The Milford Buccaneers softball team knew that their trip to Caravel Academy would be a difficult one. They understood that all aspects of their game would have to be working to have any chance against the DIAA tournaments top seed. Things could not have started better for Milford as they scored in the both the first and second innings, jumping out to a quick 4-0 lead.
One aspect of facing Caravel that concerned Milford was their offense. Beginning in the third inning, the Bucs got a first hand look at just how productive that offense could be. Caravel got to sophomore pitcher Haylee Scruggs for five runs in the bottom of the frame, giving themselves a 5-4 advantage.
Milford would even the score in the top of the fourth, but Caravel would respond quickly to once again take the advantage. With Caravel putting up four runs in the inning, it would once again be up to Milford to try and respond. Unfortunately the Buccaneers offense went dormant as Caravel sophomore Holly Brooks began to take command of the game.
As the innings passed, it became apparent the Milford would not be able to mount the charge they so desperately needed. The Bucs failed to score any runs over the final three innings and Caravel advanced in the State tournament with a 9-5 victory. Talking with coach Drew Holleger about the game, he thought that Milford really had a chance in the game.
“We got off to the kind of start we really wanted, getting out fast was very important to us,” Holleger commented. “Unfortunately our bats fell silent, and you can’t afford to have that happen against a team like Caravel”
While the loss to eventual State runner-up Caravel was disappointing, the only way to evaluate the Milford season would be as a success. In concluding the season with a 13-5 record, the team got better as the season went on. “I thought we had a great year this season,” stated Holleger. “Obviously we didn’t like losing in the tournament, but the season overall has to be judged as a success.”
Watching the team develop over the course of the season was exciting to watch. While they started slowly, their season took off with a huge 1-0 victory at Polytech. The extra inning affair was the point where the team started to believe in themselves. Holleger believes that the way the team committed to each other played a huge factor in the teams success. “Our girls really worked hard for each other, they really liked and cared for each other and that is very important.” Holleger said.
With his first season now completed, Holleger said he really enjoyed the experience. “While I was a bit nervous at first, the effort that the girls gave made it really easy,” Holleger commented. “This team really had a lot of fun this season and they played fantastic ball, that made the task of coaching them extremely rewarding.”
One element that Holleger was grateful for was his senior leadership. “I can’t begin to explain how important their leadership was, everything they did made us a better team.”