With postseason honors in tow, Bethel Park’s Milliken ready to embark on collegiate career

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Saturday, July 17, 2021 | 11:43 AM


Bethel Park graduate Reagan Milliken will be taking a loaded resume with her to the Ohio State softball program in the fall.

An athletic shortstop who led the Black Hawks to their first WPIAL softball title in school history, Milliken recently was named the Class 6A Player of the Year by the Pennsylvania High School Softball Coaches Association.

“I am so excited and thankful to be named 6A player of the year,” Milliken said. “It is the highest honor I’ve received, and because my junior year was taken from me I worked really hard to have a successful (senior) season to help my team reach our goals.”

The 18-year-old Milliken was lauded as a Trib HSSN Softball All-Star this season, and received top billing by being named Softball Player of the Year in her classification.

She hit .660 (33 of 50) with 11 home runs, 28 runs scored and 37 RBIs. She had .712 on-base and 1.460 slugging percentages, plus a 923 fielding percentage.

Milliken also was chosen as Player of the Week after belting five home runs in three games.

“Reagan’s senior season was beyond stellar,” said Heather Semplice-Scott, Bethel Park’s coach. “Reagan’s strengths are her hard work, dedication, perseverance and her passion for the game. The younger players really looked up to Reagan and her leadership. She was such a hard worker. The extra work she put in really showed in her performance on the field.

“To be named the state of Pennsylvania player of the year is such an amazing feat. As a coach we nominate players, but to be voted by other coaches really shows what she did to help the team be successful.”

Milliken has played softball for 13 years and basketball for 11. She graduated with a 4.05 GPA and as a National Honor Society member.

Bethel Park girls basketball coach Jonna Burke said Milliken developed into a dependable inside strength as a 5-foot-9 forward.

“Reagan is one of the hardest-working athletes I’ve ever coached,” Burke said. “While basketball was obviously her second sport, she didn’t treat it that way. She came early and stayed late more days than not, to get extra shots up and work on ball-handling and post moves.

“She is so strong and she used that strength to become a great post defender and rebounder her senior season.”

The girls basketball team advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals and finished 16-4 in 2020-21.

“Reagan made hustle plays and did a lot of the little things that helped us to be successful,” Burke said. “She was coachable and had a great attitude.

“I especially appreciate the fact that she stuck with basketball since she was such a dominant softball player and easily could have just stayed in that lane. We are going to miss her very much on the court next season.”

On the softball diamond, Milliken was a three-year starter, two at shortstop after one at second base (the 2020 season was pandemic-canceled). She was a multiple first-team all-section selection, and landed second team all-state recognition in 2019.

“I am really happy with how my softball and basketball careers turned out, especially this year,” Milliken said. “Winning a WPIAL championship was amazing and being the first one in (school) history makes it even better.

“I am also grateful to have been a part of such a successful basketball program.”

Bethel Park won its first outright section crown in softball in 2021 and breezed through its WPIAL schedule with an unblemished 18-0 record. The Black Hawks outscored the opposition by a 187-39 margin, and eight players hit .300-or-better.

The Black Hawks beat Baldwin, 9-1, Pine-Richland, 9-0, and Canon-McMillan, 9-2, as the top seed in the WPIAL playoffs.

“Winning a WPIAL title was definitely a goal for us and it was by far the most exciting game I have ever been a part of,” Milliken said. “It is so cool to say that I was a part of the only softball team from Bethel Park to win a WPIAL title.”

While Milliken undoubtedly could have had many college options, she was fixated on the Buckeyes, who compete in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference. She also heard from Pitt and Penn State.

“Ohio State was my first and only offer,” she said. “It was my dream school so I committed when I received it. I chose Ohio State because of the top-notch facilities and great coaching staff there. The coaches are all great and will push me to be my best. I love the atmosphere and the competitive spirit there.

“Another reason I chose Ohio State is because of all of the major options they have.”

OSU coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly said the Buckeyes have had an interest in Milliken from the early stages of her playing days.

“I’ve been following Reagan since her 12U (softball),” Schoenly said. “She moves extremely well, has tremendous power, and has extraordinary hand-eye coordination. Every year I have seen her, she has grown and developed.

“We are fortunate she has been surrounded by fantastic coaches and teammates that have pushed her to continue to improve her game.”

When Milliken signed her national letter of intent, Schoenly said, “Reagan is a true power player. She will add home run power to our lineup. Reagan has a pure swing, tremendous hand-eye coordination and the ability to hit for power to all fields with confidence. She loves the big moments and has the mentality to make a difference in the game with one swing.”

Milliken played middle infield at Bethel Park but will transition to a corner position at Ohio State.

“As with all freshmen, our first goal for Reagan is for her to get comfortable at this level and the training it requires,” Schoenly said. “She took a huge step by coming to campus this summer to begin working out with the team. That will benefit her greatly in the fall.

“Unfortunately due to covid, we weren’t able to have her attend any of our camps this last year-and-a-half, but when she used to come I enjoyed how coachable she was. The nice thing about Reagan is she also plays basketball, so she’s just developed overall as an athlete through the years.

Schoenly has coached at Ohio State since 2012 and has roots in the South Hills as a 1991 Baldwin graduate. She was a four-year starter in softball and basketball, and a three-year starter in volleyball. She won five WPIAL and two PIAA titles while at Baldwin.

She then enjoyed an All-American softball career at Michigan, earning two Big Ten Conference pitcher of year honors.

Schoenly and Jennifer Flynn Oldenburg, Ohio State’s women’s volleyball coach and a 1996 Baldwin grad, are considered two of the best all-around female athletes in the history of the WPIAL. Both are WPIAL Hall of Fame inductees.

“I’m really looking forward to having a Western Pennsylvania kid on my roster,” Schoenly said. “There’s something special about the athletes from Pittsburgh. There’s a grittiness and passion that the whole city exudes, and I’m hoping Reagan brings that to our locker room environment.

“We were only able to follow her season through newspaper articles and an occasional live stream. I still have quite a few contacts back in Pittsburgh that let me know how she was doing. Her entire team at Bethel Park was one for the ages. That senior class could go down as one of the greats in WPIAL history.”

Milliken was a straight-A student in high school. She began her college career by registering for classes this summer.

“I expect Reagan to have a positive impact on the OSU program,” Semplice-Scott said. “I foresee her learning and continuing to work hard. She’s positive and always ready to go, and will be a leader.

“Reagan’s name will be talked about for a long time (at Bethel Park). She helped make school history.”

Milliken, who has played travel ball with the Ohio Lasers Black team, is part of a strong recruiting class at Ohio State.

“I know most of the girls,” she said. “I started classes last month and am rooming with another incoming freshman. This has allowed me get to know some of my teammates while participating in the training.

“I am excited and nervous to start this new chapter of my life.”

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