Dr. Masse on high school softball: Present, future look bright for Montgomery

Emily Snyder and Abby Stryker have no more chances beyond this season.

So as tempting as it may be looking toward Montgomery’s future, the Red Raiders are putting everything toward the 2019 campaign. They start five freshmen and are loaded with talented underclassmen so both the present and future look bright.

Still, it would be a disservice to the two senior starters if Montgomery played complacent and waited for better days in the coming years. The way the Raiders see, their time is now.

“We have some pretty good kids coming out of junior high, too, so the future does look bright here, but we’re worried about this year first,” Montgomery coach Chris Glenn said following last Thursday’s 13-2 win at Muncy. “Emily and Abby Stryker are seniors and we want to do everything we can for those two because it’s their last year.”

And it could become quite a year. Montgomery (3-2, 3-1 Mid-Penn) had some early setbacks, but plowed through Millville and Muncy last week, outscoring them, 27-2, and delivering 26 hits. Montgomery reached last year’s District 4 Class A semifinals and, while it may have a new look, expectations are high again.

That is the bonus. Not only does Glenn and his staff have talented young players, but also hungry ones. They are not looking toward the future either. They are attacking this season hard and expecting good results.

“I’ve had a lot of other teams where the young girls come in and it seems like they hit the field and get a little reserved. It’s a big jump and they kind of go back before they go forward,” said Glenn who enjoyed success at Hughesville and won two district championships at Jersey Shore. “These girls seem to be going forward a lot quicker than some of those other girls did and I look forward to seeing what they do as they keep growing and learning.”

Montgomery is hitting well throughout the lineup and freshman Taylor McRae and junior Riley Fry have hit home runs. Second baseman Morgan Tupper has been on a tear, producing multi-hit performances five times, and is one of eight players who has recorded at least one two-hit game.

Snyder is one of the Mid-Penn’s best pitchers, striking out nine against Muncy, and the defense features some exciting playmakers. As this group jells it could become more dangerous.

Defending champion Northeast Bradford is the Class A favorite, but the Raiders could look like a much different team come late May and be formidable. Fellow contender Bucktail throttled Montgomery two weeks ago, but that game may have been more wake-up call than glimpse into the future.

“Once we all have our bats going we can be really good,” Tupper said. “I’m excited.”

“They were very good. They will be at the top of our (Mid-Penn) league, them and Bucktail,” Muncy coach Joe Tedesco said. “They have some really good players.”

That is why the excitement is running high. These are good players now and they could become great players as time goes by. But there is no talk these days about what the future years hold. This season is the only one that matters, something Glenn brought up before the Muncy game.

Nothing in sports or life is guaranteed. Might as well make this season as memorable as possible.

“We have a lot of freshmen starting and they’ve adjusted to the intensity of it and the speed of it and they’re getting better and I look forward to seeing what the end of the season is going to bring us,” Glenn said. “If we keep going like we are it’s a good sign. We have to take control of what we’re doing and keep getting better. We want to be playing solid ball by the end of the year and if we keep doing what we’ve been doing I think we will be.”

STORMING BACK: Montoursville lost some heartbreakers in its first five games, but has come back strong and went 3-0 last week, recording quality wins against long-time nemesis Milton, Lewisburg and Hughesville. The Warriors sandwiched a dramatic 5-4, eight-inning win at Lewisburg with convincing home wins in the other contests. Taylor Shuman and MacKenzie Weaver both pitched well, every starter produced a hit, scored a run and/or drove in a run and the defense played one of its top games against Hughesville.

“Those other games we just needed a break here or a break there, but they stuck with it,” Montoursville coach Mike Tate said. “Top to bottom everyone is starting to contribute.”

Montoursville lost two one-run games and another in which it held a five-run seventh-inning lead while starting 1-4. As frustrating as those losses might have been, Montoursville focused on what could be and turned its season around. The Warriors have a nice mix of steady contributing seniors and a strong, young core. It all came together last week and the Warriors had six players record two or more hits. Freshmen Bre O’Dell and Alexis Hartland are making strong impacts and seniors Jaylynn Cochran and Madison Shaffer both had big weeks, combining for 12 hits.

Montoursville could have crumbled following those frustrating losses. Instead, it fought back. And suddenly, the Warriors look pretty dangerous.

“The games we lost were just a few errors here or there,” Weaver said after throwing 4 1/3 scoreless innings against Milton. “We’re a better team than that and we’re trying to show that.”

QUEEN K: Anne Weller stands alone as St. John Neumann’s all-time strikeout leader after breaking Christina Mignot’s record last week against CMVT. Weller struck out 10 in that game, bring her career total to 345.

Weller also is one of the more decorated offensive players in program history and has started her senior season strong in all facets. The four-year starter has struck out at least eight batters and has 41 strikeouts in our games. She also has hit safely in three straight games and has helped a young team stay competitive in every game.

EXTRA BASES: North Penn-Liberty Savannah Doney is a double threat and showed off her pitching and hitting prowess in a 10-3 win over rival Wellsboro. Doney tamed a strong offense and also went 4 for with a triple, double and two RBIs. Mackenzie Heater hit a grand slam and Jessica Kouba had four hits as Liberty handed Wellsboro its only league loss … The Green Hornets quickly shook off that defeat and recorded a quality 10-4 win against South Williamsport. Kerrah Clymer hit her third home run and fellow sophomore Jena Boyce homered, giving Wellsboro eight this season. Cathryn Brought struck out eight and drove in three runs, while Ashley Gardner had three hits, including two doubles, for South … Hughesville third baseman Chylee Stroup is having a nice season and the sophomore went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs in a 13-11 win against Southern Columbia. Jenna Davis and Megan Ryder also had two RBIs and Jade Cordrey scored three runs … Central Mountain’s Alyssa Fisher shined in a 15-5 win against Shikellamy, going 4 for 4 with a triple, double, two RBIs and two runs … Annabelle Bergey is having an excellent season and the Muncy senior went 8 for 11 with four RBIs as Muncy (3-3) continued making strides and won two of three games. Rory Oden threw a two-hitter against Benton and 4-hitter against CMVT … Madison Burke threw a three-hitter Saturday as Sullivan County defeated Millville, 6-3, and won for the third time in four games. Mykenzie Malacusky continued her excellent senior season and went 8 for 11 in three games with two RBIs, six runs and six stolen bases.

–Masse may be reached by email at cmasse@sungazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at @docmasse

Dr. Masse’s Top 5 Softball Teams

1. Loyalsock (6-2)

What a game Loyalsock and Warrior Run played last Monday in a rematch of last year’s District 4 Class AAA championship. Maddy Jean and Madi Waltman dueled all game, but the Lancers won 3-2 with a run in the fifth inning after the Defenders had erased a 2-0 deficit. Summer McNulty and Sam Stopper both produced two hits and Bella Barone hit an RBI double. Stopper is having a big senior season, delivering 10 extra-base hits. Barone is a three-year starter and is hitting well in the middle of the lineup, driving in four runs in her last two games. Jean threw a five-hitter against Warrior Run and forms a nice pitching combination with Juliana Cruz. Both pitchers have won three games and Loyalsock has won three straight games against potential district title contenders.

2. Williamsport (4-2)

Although State College rallied late and defeated Williamsport last Saturday, the Millionaires enjoyed a strong week, highlighted by a 10-5 win at defending District 4 Class AAAA champion Jersey Shore. The Millionaires are hitting as well as any area team, collecting at least nine hits in five of six games, including 31 in last week’s three victories. They stayed undefeated in the Central Penn League with a 14-2 win against St. Mary’s and Elaina Stone provided a jolt after returning from a scary ankle injury. Stone went 4 for 8 with six RBIs in Williamsport’s victories and sophomores Isabelle Griswold and Jayla Bartholomew combined for 11 hits and four multi-hit performances. Williamsport is the only team that has beaten Jersey Shore and Lynna Robertson threw four scoreless, one-hit innings against St. Mary’s.

3. Jersey Shore (7-1)

The Bulldogs fought back from their first loss in impressive fashion, outscoring Milton and Towanda, 22-3. Maddie Herman threw a no-hitter against Towanda, while Hailey Stetts continued her strong season with a grand slam, giving her nine RBIs in three games. Aubrey Stetts also is flourishing, going 5 for 5 with three runs in Jersey Shore’s victories. Alyssa Stover has an eight-game hitting streak and Arizona Shreck delivered four hits against Williamsport and Milton. The Bulldogs have scored at least five runs in all eight games, topping 10 hits four times and going for 15 against Milton. Pitcher Kylie Russell had two hits in that win and has won an area-high six games.

4. Warrior Run (5-1)

Two days after the Loyalsock thriller, Warrior Run won an exciting 3-0, 11-inning battle against Central Columbia, handing the Blue Jays their only loss in eight games. Madi Waltman and freshman Mea Consentino combined for 33 strikeouts and Waltman threw one of her best games, allowing just two hits and striking out a career-high 18. Waltman had 30 strikeouts against two of the district’s premier teams and sophomore Gracy Beachel continued her early-season surge, hitting doubles in both games. Beachel is hitting .421 in her first full season starting and has three doubles, eight RBIs and a team-high eight runs.

5. Bucktail (6-0)

The Bucks continue mashing the ball and make their first Top 5 appearance in program history. Bucktail has mercy-ruled all six opponents, averaging 15.5 runs per game and are hitting .485 with eight starters hitting .364 or higher. Catcher Emily Cross is a three-year starter who has helped spark Bucktail’s resurgence the last three years and had a big week, going 5 for 8 with a home run, double and three RBIs as Bucktail thumped Oswayo Valley and 2018 District 4 Class A finalist Sullivan County, scoring 31 runs in the victories. Freshman Julie Green went 4 for 4 with two doubles and five RBIs, while fellow freshman Jordan Burrows was 4 for 6 with two doubles and three runs.

Players of the Week

Sammi Reeder, Williamsport and Taylor Shuman, Montoursville

Reeder is putting together an excellent senior season and helped spark the Williamsport offense last week, going 6 for 10 with four doubles, five RBIs and four runs. Reeder has hit an area-high six doubles and is hitting .529. Shuman did a bit of everything, providing quality hitting, pitching and defense as Montoursville turned its season around. Shuman threw a three-hitter against Hughesville and had two hits in each of the three wins, batting .500, hitting the game-winning home run against Lewisburg and scoring four runs.

Game of the Week

Mifflinburg at Jersey Shore

Tuesday’s game features traditional District 4 powers who are both HAC-I and District 4 Class AAAA title contenders. Mifflinburg and Jersey Shore are a combined 14-2 and both feature powerful offenses and quality left-handed pitchers. The winner of Tuesday’s game takes sole possession of first in the HAC-I and could take a big step toward earning a high seed come playoff time.