By Kevin Eickman
To say that the Milford softball team got off to a slow start this season would be an understatement. With the first nine games of the season completed, the Buccaneers were in possession of a 2-7 record. That kind of start easily could have crushed most teams, especially one that was devoid of seniors. While there may not have been seniors, there were plenty of leaders, plus an unwavering belief that things would work out for them.
The goal that coach Sean “Gator” Brennan had was to get a little better every day, just one percent, that was all he asked of them. While it may not seem like an easy request, when losing of the magnitude Milford experienced in the beginning of the year, negativity never stood a chance as the girls took it upon themselves to hold a pregame prayer and looked towards each other to turn the season around.
What was most amazing was that through all the losing, this team never seemed to be having a bad time. When most teams would have wilted, they believed in each other. “We talked about being a family. They grew together as a family, we grew together as a staff, as a team, as a family,” Brennan said. “We talk about the journey and the ride. When you go through some negative times, you just focus on the next game.”
Going about their business with a positive attitude began to pay dividends as soon as the second half of the season got underway. After dispatching Division foe Delmar, Milford would beat a previously undefeated Padua team. Not long after the Lady Bucs would beat a Concord team that would finish the season at 13-5.
The roll that Milford got on was truly remarkable, they would end up going 8-1 over the second half of the season, earning themselves a 10-8 record. With the final game of the season being played at home and the possibility of a State Tournament birth hanging in the balance, Milford battled a Dover team that would have liked nothing better than to end Milford’s playoff hopes for good. The Buccaneers would have none of it, earning a 12-5 win over the Senators. Knowing that Milford would still need some help to make the tournament, Brennan offered up his thoughts of a playoff possibility. “This is the dangest year I’ve ever seen, where 10 wins from the Henlopen Conference may not get you in.” Brennan sais. “The true gift of this season is the ride and the character that it took to take that ride.”
While Milford would fall short of the State Tournament, it does little to diminish the accomplishments of this squad. Perhaps the best thing of all, is that all their starting players from this year’s team, should be returning for next year. “We feel like we laid a good foundation for Milford softball, and when you build a house you start with the foundation,” Brennan stated. “We’re moving in the right direction, we’re just moving forward.”
One player who had to overcome challenges this season was pitcher Mo Abbott. After some difficulties early in the year, she never gave up and always maintained a positive attitude on the mound. “She is so resilient, I am so proud of her maturity level. You have to remember that’s a sophomore in the circle,” Brennan said. “She matured, we talked each day about getting better, just getting better. About focusing on the next pitch.”
Taking a minute to catch up with three-year starter and center fielder Rajene Bowe, she believes next season could be a big one for the Bucs. “We have a lot of spirit, we started praying and that helped a lot,” Bowe said. “We knew that even though we started out bad, eventually we would get it going.”