MC catcher lone senior on softball team

When Rachel Montgomery was a Marietta College freshman, she was one of 10 rookies on the 2013 softball roster.

Fast-forward to this spring, the Pioneer catcher and petroleum engineering major is the only senior on the team.

“I’m the only one who’s lasted,” said Montgomery after MC (16-16 overall, 6-6 OAC as of April 16) rallied from seven runs down to defeat visiting and 24th-ranked Heidelberg University, 16-15, in the opening game of a Community Day doubleheader this past Saturday. “It’s been worth it.”

Against the Student Princes – who came back and won the second game, 9-5 – the Massillon native enjoyed a memorable Ohio Athletic Conference twinbill.

In seven appearances at the plate, she got on base six times.

In the first contest, Montgomery hit a grand slam home run during Marietta’s seven-run fourth inning.

After the game, she said she believed that it was her first career slam.

“I think it was,” said Montgomery, who, after last Saturday, was batting .344 with two homers and 23 ribbies. “I’m not a huge home run hitter, but I guess it happened today. It helped the team.”

Interestingly, Montgomery started off her senior season with a home run in her first at-bat, a two-run shot in a 3-2 win against Emery & Henry in Virginia.

A team player all the way, Montgomery has been solid defensively behind the dish throughout her career. MC skipper Jeanne Arbuckle has especially liked the way she’s handled the pitching staff this spring.

“Rachel has done a real nice job with the younger pitchers,” Arbuckle said.

Montgomery grinned.

“They’re all aces,” Montgomery said. “They’re all strong, so I don’t think it matters who we throw. It’s whoever throws their game.”

Against HU, Montgomery’s grand slam tied the game at 13-all, and later in the inning, teammate Brianna Finck hit a two-run shot to put the Pioneers in the lead.

Earlier in the contest, MC’s Kaitlin Klinchock slugged a two-run shot, and Alison Koch also blasted a grand slam.

“It’s a day that we liked,” Montgomery said. “The ball floated.”

After Heidelberg tied the score, 15-15, in the top of the sixth, Montgomery led off the bottom of the frame with a single to right-center. Pinch running for her was Madison Gatley.

“I’m not that quick,” said Montgomery, smiling. “I got things started, but somebody else finished it. That’s all that matters, getting ’em across. My teammates pulled through, and that’s all you can do.”

Later, Gatley came around to score the go-ahead run on Finck’s single to right.

In the final inning, the left-handed throwing Kach sealed the deal on an amazing comeback win.

“Alison’s definitely clutch,” Montgomery said. “She’s a clutch player. She’s got a couple of pitches that are pretty sick without a doubt.”

Montgomery paused.

“To score 31 runs in a game, that’s impressive,” she said. “You just don’t give up and the team pulls through. We did what we had to do.”

Montgomery was hoping that the Pioneers would go on to sweep the nationally-ranked and OAC second-place Berg, but it didn’t work out that way.

“They (Heidelberg) are up there (in the OAC standings) , and we’re just making our way up there, too,” Montgomery said. “It’s all we can do.”

Marietta played at Hiram College Sunday, and is slated to face Capital University in an OAC doubleheader in Columbus Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Ron Johnston is a Marietta Times sports writer, and can be reached at (740)373-2121, x534, or at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com