Lady Bucs drop hard-fought, back-and-forth battle to Padua

MILFORD – Just twenty-four hours after completing what could possibly go down as the comeback of the year after trailing 13-2 to Sussex Central in the fifth inning and pulling away with a 14-13 victory, the Milford High softball program dropped a back-and-forth 12-10 loss to Padua at home Wednesday afternoon.

Leading Padua 10-8 in the top of the seventh inning, the Pandas plated four runs to take the 12-10 advantage and retired three consecutive batters in the bottom of the inning to complete the victory.

“These girls are no-quit. As long as there are pitches to be seen and plays to be made, they’re going to work their butts off to get that done,” Milford head coach Sean Brennan said. “I’m proud of them. It’s just a tough one to take today.”

After fielding a ground ball, senior pitcher Morgan Abbott tosses the ball over to first base for the out (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

Sophomore Macey Myers set the pace offensively, finishing 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs at the plate.

“She’s doing a great job for us,” coach Brennan said of Macey’s production at the plate this season. “She’s seeing the ball really well and she’s not getting frustrated – she’s real patient in her approach and what she’s trying to do. Early in the year she was pressing and felt like she had to do everything with one big swing and she’s worked on her mechanics really hard and has changed her mindset when she goes up to the plate and is just looking for a pitch to drive.”

Seniors Morgan Abbott, Darby Brennan and Kalaysia Reynolds and junior Morgan Petty each hit doubles for Milford as well.

In Tuesday afternoon’s 14-13 come-from-behind, thrilling win over Central, coach Brennan had a simple message to his team throughout the game: “just give me two.”

“We talked when they came in and it was the top of the fifth, down 13-2, and we just talked about needing two runs to extend the game. So, we just went one inning at a time, one at-bat at a time and we ended up getting four that inning to make it 13-6 so then the momentum kind of switched to our side,” coach Brennan said of the comeback.

“We played well, got out of the bottom of the inning with no runs and came back – you don’t change your focus now – ‘just give me two.’ We had a big inning where we had five runs and then next thing you know you’re down two. So, when we got to the seventh inning you say the same thing, ‘just give me two.’ We had a big inning there and was able to take the lead.”

Senior second baseman Darby Brennan runs home for one of the team’s 10 runs Wednesday afternoon (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

That “just give me two” theme carried over to Wednesday’s showdown with Padua.

“The whole day today too, ‘just give me two.’ We felt like if we could just get two runs, we could keep up pace,” coach Brennan added.

After Padua junior Caitlin Baxter scored on a throwing error in the top of the first inning to give the Pandas the early 1-0 lead, the Bucs came out in the bottom of the inning and put up four runs on a pair of two-RBI doubles from Myers and Abbott.

Two more runs an inning later off a Petty RBI double to score Brennan and an RBI single from Kalaysia Reynolds to score Petty extended Milford’s early lead to 6-1.

Five Padua runs in the top of the third knotted the game 6-6, but Milford had an answer once again in the bottom half of the inning.

Abbott knocked in Myers, who scored from first base, on an RBI single to put Milford out in front by a run once again.

The back-and-forth battle continued as both squads scored a pair of runs in the fourth inning, allowing Milford to retain the one-run lead, 9-8.

Senior Kalaysia Reynolds takes a swing against Padua (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

Morgan Petty scored a key insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning to extend the lead to 10-8 before Padua’s four-run rally in the top half of the seventh sealed the victory.

“Yesterday is yesterday, and today is today. We talked about that, it was a great victory – one of the greatest comeback wins I’ve been a part of in my entire life – we enjoyed the bus ride home but when we came in here today it was about Padua,” said coach Brennan. “We re-energized our focus today and I feel like we played pretty well. We had some moments where we struggled, but hat’s off to coach Boyer and Padua. They’re a great team and they’re going to be a tournament team. We showed that we can play and battle with them, today we just came up short.”

The Lady Bucs (5-8) will play its third consecutive game this afternoon as they travel down to Delmar for a rematch of last year’s state championship game against the Lady Wildcats (7-4). First pitch is set for 4:15 p.m.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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