MONTGOMERY – Bucktail and Montgomery have captured the last two District 4 Class A championships, Montgomery doing so last year. The Bucks entered Thursday’s showdown undefeated, so Montgomery felt slighted.
The Red Raiders did not say anything about it. They let their bats do the talking. And, oh, the stories those bats could tell.
Montgomery put together its most impressive hitting display this season and received brilliant pitching from Faith Persing as it defeated Bucktail, 11-1, in six innings. Every starter produced at least one of the team’s 14 hits, five had at least two and Persing threw a two-hitter while striking out 13. Put it all together and Montgomery (8-1, 8-0) took sole possession of first place in the Mid-Penn while winning its 35th straight game and making a statement.
“Everyone knows Bucktail and Montgomery are a good rivalry and we always bring 100 percent for these games. We do that every game, but I’d say it’s 110 for Bucktail just because that rivalry is there, ” right fielder Jenna Waring said after going 2 for 3 with an RBI double. “Everyone wanted it and wanted to go get it and wanted to prove that Montgomery still has our name out there and we’re coming for everyone this year.”
Montgomery came mighty strong yesterday, winning its third game in three days and handing Bucktail (9-1, 7-1) its first loss. The Raiders scored runs in each of the fourth innings before ending it after Waring singled and scored on Shelby McRae’s walk-off single. Montgomery built a 2-0 lead after two innings before Bucktail made it a one-run game in the third.
And that is when the Raiders went into overdrive. Montgomery scored eight runs over the next two innings, five with two outs, while breaking open the game. Everyone hit and hit it hard. Even some of Montgomery’s outs were well hit as the defending district champions continued building momentum.
“Everyone can hit throughout the lineup and I think that’s amazing,” catcher Shelby McRae said after going 2 for 2 with three RBIs. “Anyone can adjust to any pitch. Even if it’s a bad pitch they will adjust to it. ”
Montgomery has emphasized adjusting throughout the season and it is paying big dividends. The Raiders see a lot of different pitching styles in the Mid-Penn, especially over the last three days. They keep tweaking their hitting approaches to adapt and have scored 44 runs in those games while running their winning streak to seven games.
Bucktail has two excellent pitchers in Makenzie Wagner and Emma Poorman, so Montgomery had to make the change to faster pitching yesterday and they did so quite well. The Raiders generated hits and runs in all but one inning and Waring, McRae, Persing, Kaitlyn Raemsch and Taylor McRae all collected two hits.
“It’s all about adjusting for us. Our coaches really emphasize that this season and I think tonight we really did adjust to what we were given, ” said Waring, who produced an epic 14-pitch at-bat in the fourth inning when she fouled off eight two-strike pitches. “It’s a three-game stretch for us now, so we’ve seen a lot of different pitchers and tonight I feel like we just came together. We all made the right adjustments and we did it as a team. ”
“That’s the best hitting we’ve had all season,” Montgomery coach Chris Glenn said. “I think all of them are gaining confidence and I couldn’t be happier.”
Shelby McRae has made Montgomery mighty happy the last two days. She has reached base seven straight times, going 4 for 4 with two home runs, a triple and 10 RBIs. Hitting in the No. 9 position, McRae is providing some thunder down under and doing a super job turning the lineup back over.
After bashing two home runs in one inning Wednesday, McRae hit a two-run single and her walk-off triple. That timely single was part of a three-run third inning when Montgomery took a 5-1 lead.
“I had a little bit of a slump a couple of games ago and that Millville game it just took off,” McRae said. “It was a little change against Benton (Wednesday) and then against Millville, but then tonight I knew I had to make an adjustment because the speed changed. There’s such a variety of teams we’re playing and I think that will help us to help us improve ourselves throughout the year. ”
Montgomery’s offense has dramatically improved since the season opener and all nine starters had a hit by the fourth inning. Waring rocketed an RBI double off the right-center field fence in the third inning and Taylor McRae was a few feet from hitting a two-run home run during the five-run fourth inning, settling for an RBI double. Kaitlyn Raemsch produced two RBIs in the first two innings and Persing ignored the surge when she led off the first inning with a single before displaying a great hustle and scoring from the second on Raemsch’s infield single.
Kaylei Snyder and Cortney Smith delivered clutch two-out hits in the fourth inning which brought in three runs. Montgomery batted around that inning and delivered eight hits in the third and fourth innings against a team which routinely had blown out its first nine opponents. Sloan Wooten added a bunt single which helped produced a second-inning run.
“I’m pretty lucky to have a good bunch of kids,” Glenn said. “Everybody contributed and it was really great to see.”
Bucktail pulled within 2-1 in the third inning when Alexis Lowery slammed a one-out double off the center field fence. Haley Burrows scored her two batters later with a two-out RBI single.
Persing, however, dropped the hammer from there and retired the final 10 batters, while finishing with 13 strikeouts. Persing was so locked in that she produced an immaculate inning in the fourth, striking out three straight batters on nine pitches. The senior also threw 56 of 75 pitches for strikes and retired five of the first seven batters she faced via strikeout.
“We improve every game, every practice. We try our hardest, ” Shelby McRae said. “We put 100 percent out; we never stop. We go after every ball, every hit. ”
Bucktail 001 000– 1 2 1
Montgomery 113 501-11 14 0
Makenzie Wagner, Emma Poorman (4) and Haley Burrows. Faith Persing and Shelby McRae. W: Persing, (7-1). L: Wagner, (5-1).
Top Bucktail Hitters: Alexis Lowery 1-2, 2B, run; Burrows 1-3, RBI. Top Montgomery hitters: Persing 2-3, R; Kaitlyn Raemsch 2-4, 2 RBIs, run; Taylor McRae 2-3, 2B, RBI, 2 runs; Jenna Waring 2-3, 2B, RBI, run; S. McRae 2-2, 3B, 2 BBs, 3 RBIs; Cortney Smith 1-3, 2 RBIs, 2R; Kaylei Snyder 1-4, RBI, run; Brynn McRae 1-4, run; Sloan Wooten 1-4.
Records: Montgomery (8-1, 8-0 Mid-Penn), Bucktail (9-1, 7-1).