Chris Glenn clutched the game ball tightly as his thoughts raced in seemingly 100 different directions.
A man who coached virtually every level of youth and travel softball, as well as Hughesville and Jersey Shore, was now a state champion in Montgomery. And as excited as he was to see his Red Raiders claim Thursday’s Class A state title by beating DuBois Central Catholic, 5-1, Glenn’s thoughts are also with everyone he met during the course. of his softball life.
It was their ball, their trophy, their gold medal as much as his. It made this historic championship, the first ever by a Montgomery team, even more special.
“It was just amazing. It was a flashback of a lot of things. I coached for many years at three high schools, little league, summer ball teams and I can’t tell you at how much it means to me that all of these people I have coached before or with or against have reached out to us and wished us well,” says Glenn. “My phone is constantly ringing. It’s an overwhelming feeling going through this. I look back on hearing them all and coaching so many teams and so many games. It all brought me here with these girls and I’m so happy for they.
Glenn helped revive the Hughesville program from 2008 to 2010 before heading to Jersey Shore and helping it win two district championships from 2011 to 2014. He then served as an umpire for three years before landing in Montgomery and fuel the biggest run in the program’s history.
In four years there, Glenn helped Montgomery go 75-18, win three league championships, two district titles and now that coveted state championship. He provided a steady hand in difficult times and never let his teams get too high or too low.
After Montgomery (22-4) lost back-to-back games late in the season, he bounced back playing some of the best softball this region has had in recent years, winning his next seven games by a 64-3 margin. After each game, Glenn kept raising the bar and asking what the team could do best.
Now the answer is simple: nothing. Montgomery has achieved the ultimate goal and Glenn will be bound to his players forever now.
“At the end of our game our coach always asks us what we can do better and at the end of it he said we couldn’t do anything better.” said first baseman Taylor McRae after going 2-for-4 with two RBIs. “I feel like the magnitude of this will only hit me a week after this game.”
“I’m so happy to be a part of bringing it to Montgomery because Mongomery is such a great community,” says Glenn. “I can’t say enough about the community and these girls.”
BIG COMEBACK: Montgomery suffered a blow in the District Finals last year when third baseman Brynn McRae tore ligaments in his right hand and broke a joint after hitting a foul ball from this hand. The Red Raiders went on to win that district title, but missed its bat in the States and dropped an additional heartbreaker against eventual state champion Tri-Valley in the state quarterfinals.
Given another shot this season, McRae embraced it and was at his best through the playoffs. She’s gone 3-for-4 against Central Catholic and 5-for-6 the past two games, reaching base seven times.
McRae also played flawless defense and made one of the game’s tiebreakers in the second inning Thursday. After Savanah Morelli netted a brace, McRae sprinted down the line, pulling off a terrific diving catch on a bunt attempt. She then got up quickly and landed a perfect throw to second baseman Sloan Wooten to complete a deadly double play.
“It’s like I shuffled in two years because I missed last year,” McRae said. “I did everything I could to perform.”
SWEETENING THE DEAL: Looking back at last year’s state tournament, it looked like that Montgomery vs. Tri-Valley game might have been the real state championship. And it really does feel like this year’s first-round rematch doubled as the state finals again.
This time it was Montgomery who took the win at Central Columbia. Wooten opened the ninth inning with a double and scored a batter later when Kaitlyn Raemsch hit a double as Montgomery won, 1-0 in nine innings.
After that game, Montgomery crushed their last three opponents by a 27-2 margin. The Raiders also beat those opponents, 39-10. At least eight players produced hits in each of those games and it all came together at the perfect time.
The end of last year certainly hurt, but in the end, it made winning that state championship all the more satisfying.
“I think what makes it even better is that we fell short against Tri-Valley last year in the quarter-finals and beat them in the first round (this time),” Faith Persing said after throwing a four hit and going 2-for-4 with two RBIs. “We knew we had a chance and we could get into this game and winning it was worth it.”
FIRE EXTINQUISHERS: Montgomery had dominated the first 4½ innings, but Central Catholic cut a 2-0 deficit in half late in the fifth and threatened to take the lead by putting the runners in second and third with one out. As he has done all season, Montgomery came back strong, held on to the lead and then put the game away with three runs in the sixth.
Persing has more than 500 strikeouts over the past two seasons, but knew how solid the defense was behind her. She didn’t focus on controlling the hitters in this situation, but on inducing low contact. She then fulfilled this mission perfectly.
Taylor McRae caught a foul ball on the first base line before Raemsch walked into shallow left field and caught the late-inning pop. It was the last time Central Catholic threatened as Persing allowed only one more base runner who was blocked first.
“We insist so much on our defense” said Persing. “It’s great to have a pitcher and a defense; and then you can add offense and you can’t beat it.
“It was really huge” said Taylor McRae. “I’m pretty sure everyone’s hair was on their feet this round, so it was pretty big to get out of it.”
GOOD CALL: Montgomery faced a big offseason decision and Glenn and his players weren’t on the same page. OK, it was just a question of uniforms, but superstition is part and parcel of the sport, so each side took it seriously.
The players wanted to swap their red jerseys for white ones. Glenn wanted to stick with red, which has always been Montgomery’s jersey color. Glenn decided to let the voice of the players win the day, and Montgomery presented white jerseys for the first time.
A year in white, a state championship. Looks like it could be the shirt color of choice for a long time now.
“I wanted all red and me and (sporting director) Mr. Snyder were coming and going but the players didn’t want those red uniforms,” says Glenn. “I listened to them. I get a little smarter in my older years.
PANEL: The COVID-19 pandemic has really been the only thing that has stopped Montgomery for the past four years. Eight senior starters have made big contributions there every year, but lost their 2020 season to the pandemic. Add that year in and Montgomery would likely have one of the best four-year runs in area softball history.
But what a three-year ride it was. And those three years also compare to those of any other team in the region during the 2000s.
Before those seniors reached high school, Montgomery hadn’t reached a district final or state tournament since 2010. That was also the last year he had won a league championship.
All this group did was win three consecutive Mid-Penn titles, reach the States and District Finals every year, win two consecutive District Championships, and win the first State Crown in the United States. ‘school. They have also won their last 40 league games.
The Raiders have gone a remarkable 63-11 in those three years, averaging nearly 21 wins per season, a state made remarkable when you consider that the regular season only lasts 20 games. Montgomery wanted to raise the bar and he did it as far as he could.
“It’s been a big game, a big season and a big career for these girls,” Glenn said. “I’m so happy for them, the community and all my coaches.