By Kevin Eickman
As the 2016 baseball regular season came to a close, it was more likely that the Buccaneers would find themselves on the outside looking in, come tournament time. Having a 9-9 record entering the final week of the season, the Bus had to win a pair of games to lock up the Henlopen South title and the automatic playoff birth that goes with it. Milford let the opportunity slip away with a loss to a 4-14 Indian River team, but fates smiled upon them as they got help from Seaford on the last game of the season, who beat Delmar to hand Milford the title.
While getting in the tournament was nice, coach Nick Brannan knew that Milford had failed to seize an opportunity. “We can’t beat ourselves, like we did so many times last year,” Brannan said. “Last year we had too many times where we just had that one bad inning, that one bad sequence where we would shoot ourselves in the foot.”
With all that in mind, Milford is focusing on a change of mindset to start the season, the goal is to come out of the gate with a raised level of intensity and focus. “We’re going to take a more aggressive approach this year, we aren’t going to sit back and wait for things to happen, we are going to make them happen,” stated Brannan. “It’s about having the proper mindset, it’s about having the sense of urgency to make good things happen.”
As is almost always the way with high school sports, this seasons roster projects to be a mixture of upperclassmen and a few newcomers. One player coming back will be junior Bryce Greenly, who missed last season due to injury. “Not having Greenly in the lineup last year, really had an impact on our lineup,” Brannan commented. “He is the type of player that really gets after it at the plate and we are really looking forward to having him back.”
Other players coming back that will be looked at to provide offensive punch are seniors Ethan Hurd and Abraham Mow. “That’s a pair of All-Conference players coming back who provide both experience and leadership,” said Brannan. “We really like the way that we look from top to bottom, we have guys that have the ability to get on base and score runs, so we need to make that happen.”
Milford will have some versatility on the mound, with freshman Chad Reichold, who is touted as an up and comer, along with sophomore Brock Hilligloss. Brannan hopes that the two underclassmen can provide some key innings for the Bucs. Junior Bryce Greenly., along with Hurd and Mow are also expected to help out on the hill. “We look forward to a lot of guys being able to help out when it comes to pitching this season,” Brannan said.
Speaking with Mow, who has committed to playing at Division II Slippery Rock next season, he believes that this year’s squad has set their goals higher for this season “It’s not just enough to just squeak into the tournament, there is more to it than that. We want to make the State tournament, but we want to earn a good seed along the way,” said Mow. “We have a group of guys willing to do the work and I think we can take a step up from last season. We need to get the wins that we know we should have gotten last year.”
When asked what will make this year’s squad better, Brannan was quick to answer. “A lot of these guys saw what happened last year when we let things slip away at times. They know that it’s going to take a lot of hard work to improve, so they have really upped their intensity level this year,” he stated.
Milford will open up at Caesar Rodney this Thursday and Tower Hill on Saturday, before their home opener on March 28 against Cape Henlopen.
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