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Montgomery has received a lot of support from community

RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Montgomery’s Taylor McRae rounds the bases as Montgomery fans cheer in the background of the PIAA Class A first-round game against Old Forge.

Montgomery softball celebrated a District 4 Class A championship last Saturday. Players celebrated their prom later that night.

A day later, the whole town celebrated its softball team.

Excited and gracious fans lined the streets as fire trucks carried the players throughout the community. A day later, it felt like whole community again converged at Central Columbia as fans arrived in droves and cheered on Montgomery as it blanked Old Forge, 7-0 and won its state tournament opener. Expect another sea of Red and White to flood Central this afternoon when Montgomery plays Tri-Valley in the state quarterfinals.

Welcome to Montgomery where its softball team has the whole town bursting with pride.

“It’s insane,” first baseman Taylor McRae said after the Old Forge win. “It’s great knowing how noticed we are in a small town.”

Montgomery has drawn a crowd all season. Fans have watched this program make a steady ascent the last three seasons. The Raiders (22-1) reached the district semifinals for the first time in six years in 2018. Next up was a return to the district final and state tournament for the first time since 2010. Now Montgomery is a district champion for just the second time in program history and joins the 2010 state finalist as the only ones to win a state playoff game.

The fans have no control over the game but they certainly do help the players. As the team bus has exited school and then the town throughout the playoffs, a multitude of fans have sent them off. Several honked their car horns and others enthusiastically cheered and/or waved. Either way, they are as excited as the players. It remains that way at games.

And one better believe the players notice. They are the talk of the town and seeing the support they receive will be among the fondest memories they take from this memorable 2021 season. It also provides quite a charge come game day and Montgomery has outscored three playoff opponents, 16-0.

Something similar happened in 2010 when Montgomery reached the state championship. And in 2012 when the baseball team advanced to the state final. And when the football team rallied late three years ago, edged Muncy 15-14 and captured the Old Shoe Trophy for the first time since 2004.

You get the idea. This is a sports-passionate town. It also is a town which always wants its athletes knowing it appreciates the work and excitement they provide.

“We went for a fire truck ride the other day and a lot of people were out in the community and it was just great,” third baseman Jenna Waring said. “It’s great that they support us so much.”

Just about everyone loves a winner, but fans like the way this team plays even more. Montgomery is an unselfish, tightly-bonded team which never backed down during a late-season stretch which included games against three state qualifiers and two larger school state quarterfinalists. The Raiders won each game.

Talk to the players and it’s never about them or what they are doing. It’s about the team and what it is doing.

Stats are nice, but the only thing these players care about is winning. Whatever it takes to make that happen, they will do, something reflected through a collective relentless work ethic. Even more than the championships, that is what draws so many to this team.

“It’s great they support they give us,” coach Chris Glenn said. “Montgomery is a close-knit community and they support their players and they support this softball team like they do the other sports, and I can’t be happier with the fan base that we have.”

That fan base has expanded and reeled in many more outside the town boundaries. Montgomery is one of three District 4 teams still playing softball and former rivals are now among their biggest cheer leaders. The Raiders are helping carry that district banner quite well and the appreciation has grown.

“It’s amazing,” pitcher Faith Persing said. “The support our community gives is great and even people that aren’t from our community come out and support us. It’s great to have that atmosphere and energy at the games.”

All of Montgomery is buzzing and that could grow to a roar when fans arrive at Central today. This is their team and whatever the scenario, Montgomery will be letting the players know how much what they are doing means.

Back when the baseball team made that historic state final run in 2012, a resident left a sign at the Route 15 intersection as many headed toward State College. One gets the feeling that sign applies today as well.

“Last one out, turn out the lights.”

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