STANDISH – During the offseason, Brittany Wiley recognized the challenge.

The Buckfield softball team had graduated its veteran pitcher last spring. After winning a second straight Class D state title, the Bucks needed a new ace, and Wiley knew she was the heir apparent.

“I just knew I had a lot of work coming for me,” said the junior pitcher. “I had to do a lot of practicing and try to pick my speed up.”

Wiley played mostly second base last year, but did see her share of pitching opportunities. She even got a start against Richmond and pitched well in defeat.

Still, it was Kasey Farrington that shouldered the pressure situations down the stretch and pitched the Bucks to the regional final, and to a thrilling come-from-behind win over Bangor Christian in the state game.

“There’s a lot more pressure,” Wiley said. “I knew I had a lot of work to do and had big shoes to fill.”

Wiley has done her part as the Bucks claimed a fourth straight Western Class D regional crown Tuesday. Buckfield goes for a third consecutive state title against Woodland on Saturday.

“She’s handled it quite well,” said Buckfield coach Ken Farrington. “We’re trying to build strength in her because when it gets to the fifth or sixth inning, her legs get tired. But a girl that weighs 100 pounds, it’s hard to get that.”

Wiley has stepped into a tough spot and done admirably well. She’s lived up to all expectations and helped lead a young team through its share of adversity this season. Between losing seven players from last year’s championship team to having one of the more inexperienced teams in recent years, Wiley’s consistency on the mound has been a significant boost to the Bucks.

“Anybody that gets out on that rubber has to know there’s a team that surrounds her and believes in her,” said Farrington. “That comes back to her, and she projects out to that team that, ‘I can do this.'”

It has been a learning process for Wiley this season as she has accustomed herself to the full-time role. The Bucks had another pitcher that could help share the pitching duties but when she was lost for disciplinary reasons, Wiley was left to pitch alone.

“I just tried to work as hard as I could in practice and really stay focused,” said Wiley.

Wiley allowed just four hits and struck out nine in Buckfield’s semifinal win over United Christian. In the regional final against Richmond, she struck out four and gave up nine hits.

Despite the Bobcats’ four hits and two runs in the first inning and three more runs in the third, Wiley battled hard until the end. Her Bucks stayed within reach until a dramatic rally in the seventh.

“Last year, if I wasn’t doing good there was no coming back,” she said. “I kind of lost it. This year, I’ve been able to pick my head up and keep going.”

Support from her teammates has been a significant factor in Wiley being able to handle the increased pressure and responsibility. Farrington raves about the leadership of first baseman LeAnn Abbott, the team’s lone senior. She has helped rally the troops and helped provide Wiley a cohesive group behind her in the field. It has allowed Wiley to build confidence in herself and in her team.

“I’ve got Ally (Martin) on third base constantly talking to me and then I have my parents on the sidelines,” said Wiley. “Everyone is just cheering me on. I just have to put it in there, and I have a good team backing me up. That’s all I can do.”


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