(Fleming Island) The Golden Eagles Softball program wrapped up the 2022 season as District Runners up with a 10-10 record. The team and coaches are expecting more from each other next season. This past spring, the team included nine Freshmen and only four Seniors and should be stronger in 2023, knowing younger players earned and saw a lot of playing time in ’22, which should carry over in ’23. According to Coach Jen Bucklew the First-year class that saw the field in ’22 were “players with great leadership qualities as well as talented players. And they will need players like Emma Massey, Mallory Blackwell, Brooke Wilson, and Olivia Sikes to carry over that leadership going into their Sophomore season with another large Freshman class on its way”. The Golden Eagles finished the season with three Honorable Mentions, four All-County, and three players graduating and heading off to college. Jadyn Chesser will attend St. Johns River, Chesney Miles will head to Converse University, and Ansley Hamilton (SR Captain) with attend Clemson University.
Juniors Ella Morris and Senior Alexis Bucklew will be expected to have a big season in ’23. Morris and Bucklew will be depended upon to help the Freshman players get ready to compete at a high level and will both need to carry big bats next season. Morris finished her ’22 campaign with a .411 average, and Bucklew ended the season with a .323 average.
The coaches realize they play a significant role in helping the girls become good players and people. “We try to help the players realize that we are here to help them, hold them accountable, and pray that the things we talk about and guide them through will help them in their everyday journey, the same way we do for our kids,” said Jen Bucklew. The coaching tandem of Jen and Baire Bucklew has been in place at FIHS for 15 years, and they’re committed to improving the product on and off the field. They will push their players to strive for their best on and off the field but, most importantly, show their players support during their journey. Both coaches work with the players as if they’re all family members. The program should be happy to have the Bucklews as part of their family.