By Kevin Eickman
Spring weather can be fickle, so this Monday was the first time that the Buccaneers had a chance to have a practice on their home field due to conditions. Judging from the enthusiasm and number of players at practice, this year might be just what the doctor ordered for a team that was at best uneven last season. After a slow start to last season, Milford won six out of seven games to put themselves in prime position for a playoff birth, then the wheels fell off.
“We lost some close games down the stretch last season when we could ill afford to do it,” Coach Nick Brannan stated. “Looking back at it we learned how precious the chances you get are and we are going to build off that.”
For a team that has been to the post-season several times over the last four years, finishing 8-10 and on the outside looking in resulted in some self-reflection. “We felt that we needed to develop a closer atmosphere for ourselves,” Brannan said. “It all starts in the off season, spending time in the weight room, getting to know each other, just becoming closer as a unit.”
Milford looks to build off of what appears to be a solid and experienced pitching staff. Back on the hill this year for the Buccaneers will be senior Brock Hilgoss and junior Chad Reichold. Also expected to be a key contributor will be a transfer senior from Woodbridge, Dylan Leighton.
“I think we have some real depth on the mound, it’s not just those guys there are so many others that can give us quality innings. Players continually step up when the opportunity presents itself and I expect there to be lots of chances for our players this season,” Brannan stated.
Speaking with Hilgoss, who will be headed to Salisbury following the season, he believes the pitching can be a force this season as well. “It’s all about doing whatever it takes to win. If everyone does their job we are going to be in good shape.”
One of the issues Milford had last season was in the fielding department. Returning to the Buccaneer family after a successful college career, Devon Reed took over as the infield coach. It is a move that Brannan states is already showing positive signs. “Having Devon in the fold has been huge for us, he is already making a difference and as time goes by I think the impact he makes is going to be substantial for us,” he said.
At the plate, look for Reichold to lead the charge of what should be a solid lineup. “We have a great group of guys that know how to handle themselves at the plate,” commented Brannan.“They are disciplined and know what they are doing, we should be a formidable lineup this season.”
When asked about a sense of urgency Brannan indicated that improving and winning go hand in hand. “It all starts with the first game, we want to get off to a good start and keep improving from their,” said Brannan. “We know what we are capable of, we just have to get out there and do it.”
Milford will open at home against Hodgeson Vocational Tech, March 22nd at 4:15 pm.
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