WHEELERSBURG — Mason Montgomery is a regular at United Methodist Church in Wheelersburg —and at Branch Rickey Park in Portsmouth.
Hence, it makes all the perfect sense for the Wheelersburg High School senior to continue his education and baseball career at Shawnee State University.
This past Sunday, inside the United Methodist Church and in front of family, friends and Wheelersburg Pirates teammates, Montgomery made it official —announcing his intention to stay close to home and become a baseball Bear.
Montgomery was flanked by his parents Stacy and Amy Montgomery, Wheelersburg High School baseball coach Derek Moore, and his aforementioned other invitees.
Simply put, and despite a visit to Mount Vernon Nazarene University and in contact with Georgetown College, Montgomery made the decision to keep going to church every Sunday— and to keep playing at Branch Rickey.
Montgomery becomes the latest Scioto County player to join the Bears’ program —as both Breckon Williams and Andrew Andronis of Valley made their intentions official back in March.
“It seemed like a good fit, a good way for me to get a college education, and play four more years of baseball. I get to live at home and everything, and it makes it a lot easier on myself,” said Montgomery. “Those guys from Valley, we’re not super close, but we do know each other. I think playing there (at Shawnee State), I will get to know them better and be closer with them. There are a couple of other guys from Wheelersburg who are still making the decision to go play there, but I am excited and just really looking forward to going to Shawnee. Either to meet new people or whether it was people I already know, either way, I am excited about it.”
At Wheelersburg, Montgomery only got to play one full season of varsity baseball with the Pirates —playing primarily on the junior varsity squad his freshman and sophomore campaigns.
He would have been a regular on last season’s Pirate club, but the Ohio High School Athletic Association cancelled the 2020 season because of the coronavirus threat.
Montgomery said missing that season of development and competition wasn’t easy.
“It was really tough last year. I was close to that senior class from last year, I had played a lot of baseball growing up with them, from Little League to Junior High,” he said. “I was really close friends with a lot of them, and some of them lived around me and we hung out all the time. I thought we would have a really good team last year too. We were really good and a close group.”
But baseball wasn’t completely void of Montgomery’s life last year —as he played his third full summer with the Portsmouth Post 23 American Legion team, and Andronis was one of his teammates.
Montgomery said he hit with Williams over the winter, and explained he plans to play Post 23 again beginning in June —for one final go-round.
Post 23 plays its home games at Branch Rickey Park —along with the Bears.
For his summer squad, and even in coming up at Wheelersburg, Montgomery played both catcher and in the outfield —as he is the regular right-fielder for the Pirates.
Montgomery said he plans to do the same for the Bears.
“I can play either one, and I am fine with either one. I just want to see the playing field,” he said. “Whatever way I can get on the field, I am fine either catching or playing in the outfield.”
Moore said Montgomery is the ideal student-athlete that every athletic program desires.
“Mason is just an awesome young adult. You can tell his growth as the years have gone on. He came in as a catcher, and still catches some, but has transformed into a really good outfielder for us. Going down to the Shawnee State, he’s going to try and do both,” said the coach. “They are getting a good one. He is a great kid, a great student-athlete and a hard worker. You can tell he loves the game and wants to perfect his craft and get better and better. That’s what you ask for guys coming in. Ones with good character and who do things the right way. I am really proud of him and am excited to see what his future holds. We expect a lot of good things out of him.”
Of course, he has his senior season to complete with the upcoming Division III postseason tournament, and reflected upon his positive Pirate four years — with three on the actual diamond.
“I don’t think there’s anything else like playing baseball at Wheelersburg. There’s the camaraderie, there’s the tradition, it’s just a different mindset. I would want my kids to have the same exact experience that I have. There’s nothing like it. Baseball here is a top priority, and it’s just awesome. The brotherhood you form, the coaches are amazing, and everything from top-to-bottom is top-notch in Scioto County,” said Montgomery. “It means a lot. Ever since I was a little kid sitting in the stands and looking up to all the older kids who played here, especially the 2012 and 2013 (Division III state championship) teams, it’s been really fun and a dream to play varsity at Wheelersburg.”
And, his next field of dreams — Branch Rickey Park and Shawnee State University.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved