Reynolds’ walk-off leads Lady Bucs to 11-10 win in season opener

MILFORD – “Nobody wins championships in the first game of the season.”

Just one of the many one-liners Milford High head softball coach Sean Brennan delivered following his team’s 11-10 season-opening victory over Caesar Rodney Monday, March 26.

It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but the Lady Bucs (1-0) began its quest to defend their state title by earning the one-run victory in walk-off fashion.

Trailing 10-9 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, senior second baseman Darby Brennan delivered a solo home run over the left field fence to knot the game 10-10.

Senior centerfielder Kalaysia Reynolds digs into the batter’s box before knocking in Morgan Petty to win the game for the Lady Bucs, 11-10 (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

Four batters later, with a pair of runners on base, senior centerfielder Kalaysia Reynolds drilled in the game-winning run with an RBI single. Junior Morgan Petty jogged home to touch the plate and clinch the walk-off win.

“I tried to just relax at the plate. I knew that if I tensed up, I would probably strike out,” Reynolds said of her approach in the final at-bat.

“We work on those situations all the time in practice, finding a good pitch and hitting a line drive in that situation,” coach Brennan said. “Kalaysia stepped in there and was able to execute it today.”

The Bucs jumped ahead early, plating five runs in the bottom of the first inning to take the 5-0 lead at the end of the opening inning. Brennan, Petty, Reynolds, junior Courtney Kohel and sophomore Macey Myers were the five Milford hitters to cross the plate in the opening inning.

A five-run third inning for the Lady Riders put CR right back in the game, knotting it up 5-5 before Milford responded with two more runs from senior Morgan Abbott and freshman Haleigh Baker in the bottom half of the inning.

Once again, CR’s bats responded with two more runs in the top of the fourth inning to tie the game 7-7.

“Hat’s off to CR, they really battled back,” coach Brennan said of the back-and-forth battle. “They have a great softball program this year.”

The two squads would exchange runs once again in the bottom of the fourth and top of the fifth inning. A Darby Brennan run in the bottom of the fifth handed the Bucs an 8-7 lead.

Senior starting pitcher Morgan Abbott delivered in the pitcher’s circle and in the batter’s box for the Lady Bucs Monday afternoon (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

CR stayed alive in the top half of the seventh inning, scoring a pair of two-out runs from Courtney Malin and Lauren Scott to regain the 10-9 lead and force Milford to come back out and bat in the bottom of the seventh.

Starting pitcher Morgan Abbott pitched the entire seven innings for the Bucs, surrendering 11 hits to CR batters. She also produced at the plate, hitting a key double in the third inning and later coming around to score one of the team’s 11 runs.

“This time of the year, hitters are usually ahead of the pitchers,” coach Brennan said of the high-scoring affair. “You normally see high-scoring games like this early in the season. I think we should have done a better job backing her up on defense, too. But I think Mo did a great job out there. We got 1% better today.”

The Riders’ offense was led by junior leadoff hitter Courtney Malin, who went 3-for-4 with three runs scored. Senior outfielder Carissa Thorne went 2-for-4 at the plate for CR.

Next up for Milford is a road match-up with Woodbridge (1-1) Wednesday, March 28 at 4:15 p.m.

Henlopen Conference Softball Scoreboard (Monday, March 26):

Lake Forest 9, Dover 0
Indian River 15, Polytech 2
Smyrna 10, Delmar 5
Sussex Tech 6, Sussex Central 4
Cape Henlopen 8, Laurel 1

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

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