By Kevin Eickman
This was the way it was supposed to be, this was what they had been expecting of themselves all season long. It was the final game of the season, for many of the Milford players it was the final game of their careers. Milford was hosting a 12-2 Delaware Military Academy team on senior day. In most normal Buccaneer seasons, this could have been a playoff preview. On this day it was just the final game of the year.
It was a game that looked liked it would end the way so many others had this season, not enough runs against a good pitcher to make a difference. While Buccaneer pitching had allowed only one earned run and the defense had come up with some big plays when it needed them, they still found themselves trailing 1-0 as they entered the bottom of the seventh inning.
That is when it happened, an event that reminded everyone just what this Milford team was capable of, if not this year, in the future. With a runner on base and Nia Bowe at the plate, the Milford sophomore turned all the frowns upside down as she cracked a two run home run over the center field fence. A game that looked like would end in defeat had ended in walk-off fashion.
“I was just looking for a pitch to drive, I had a real good look at it and hit it as hard as I could,” Nia Bowe said. “This was a real tough season for us, to win a game like this was real important to everybody.”
There was little doubt that coming into the just completed softball season, Milford High School had lofty expectations. Not only were they hoping to qualify for the State Tournament, they were hoping to make some noise once they got there. Recent history would indicate there would be little reason to doubt the the Buccaneers would find their way to the tournament, after all the last season they failed to qualify was 2011. Unfortunately for Milford, things did not go as planned. With not quite the depth as in past season, along with the loss of some key players, Milford struggled to a 6-12 record. Not nearly a good enough record to reach the playoffs.
One of the problems Milford had this year was a lack of experience on their pitching staff. With senior Haylee Scruggs not available for a big portion of the season, coach Drew Holleger was forced to turn to sophomore Megan Fry and freshman Morgan Abbott to perform the lion’s share of the work on the hill.
“While I was definitely counting on them for innings, I was not expecting to use them as much as I had to,” Holleger said. “While they may have taken a few lumps this year, it is the kind of experience that will benefit the both of them in the future.”
The Buccaneers ended the season with a 6-12 record, but with some outstanding players returning next season Milford’s fortunes should be on the rise. Along with the pitching skills of Fry and Abbott, they are not simply pitchers. “Both of those girls are complete ball players, I believe that with their work ethic the future is bright for them,” Holleger stated.
In addition to Fry and Abbott, there are some other players to be optimistic about as well. Nia Bowe was solid at third base, while her sister Rajene is a center fielder with a complete game. Darby Brennan will be just a sophomore next year and is another young lady full of potential. “We will be a young team next year, but we will be experienced with solid ball players,” Holleger said. “This group coming up has the potential to be special, it’s up to them to work hard and get it done.”