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Bucktail falls to Montgomery in six innings in softball

MONTGOMERY–Bucktail tried pitching around Montgomery lead-off hitter Faith Persing Tuesday afternoon. That included in the fourth inning when Montgomery was a hit from breaking open a close game.

Persing did not deliver that big hit and walked for a third time. So Kaitlyn Raemsch produced the clutch hit. Raemsch followed Persing by taking a two-strike pitch the opposite way.

That two-run single gave Montgomery a five-run advantage and highlighted a key Montgomery strength. Pitch around one Red Raider and another is waiting to strike. That was evident again yesterday as seven players produced eight hits and 10 players reached base as Montgomery blanked Bucktail, 10-0, in six innings in a rematch of the 2019 District 4 Class A championship.

Persing threw a three-hit shutout, Kaylei Snyder went 2 for 3 and Taylor McRae drove in three runs as the Raiders (11-0) and completed a regular-season sweep for the defending district champions.

“In that at-bat I was pretty worked up,” Raemsch said after going 1 for 2 with a walk and a sacrifice. “I was trying hard to get a hit. When I got it, I felt like I put a spark into the team and everybody got hyped.”

Different players had Montgomery hyped all afternoon. Montgomery scored at least one run in four of its six at-bats, and Cortney Smith ended the game early when she delivered a walk-off fielder’s choice in the sixth inning. Raemsch’s two-run single was part of a six-run outburst in which Montgomery flexed its offensive muscle and built a 9-0 lead.

Shelby McRae ignited that burst with a lead-off double to deep left field. Raemsch’s timely single fanned the flames and Snyder helped them become an inferno, belting a two-run single after Taylor and Brynn McRae hit singles. Bucktail (8-4) features two strong pitchers in Makenzie Wagner and Emma Poorman but neither ever was able to breathe easy against Montgomery’s well-balanced lineup.

“Once one person gets a hit everyone comes to life,” Snyder said. “We keep working from there.”

“We don’t want to be too complacent on defense, but we put some extra effort into hitting and it paid off. We’re changing some things with our hitting and it seems to be working,” Montgomery coach Chris Glenn said. “Everybody contributed. It didn’t seem to matter what the situation was, some were hitting the first pitch and some were going deep into counts, but they were all hitting. They definitely went up to bat with confidence.”

Montgomery did a nice job manufacturing runs while building a 3-0 third-inning lead but it was in the fourth when everything came together offensively. Five players delivered hits and even some of the outs Bucktail recorded were on well-hit balls. Through four innings every starter had reached base as Montgomery started a big week, that continues today against defending Class A state champion Williams Valley and tomorrow against surging Muncy, with an impressive win against a quality opponent.

“The more that we continue to work together it gets better and better every time,” Raemsch said. “We’ve all played together for years makes it 10 times better.”

“We all know each other well,” Snyder said. “We all know how to work together on the field and that helps.”

Montgomery heating up offensively is especially crucial down the stretch since Persing has been so dominant in the pitching circle. The junior right-hander continued overpowering opponents yesterday, throwing her eighth shutout and striking out 12. So excellent has Persing been that Bucktail’s three singles are tied for the most Persing has surrendered this season. She struck out the side twice, walked none and threw an efficient 80 pitches, never letting a runner reach second base. Montgomery backed Persing with strong defense as well, including in the sixth inning when it helped her retire the side on five pitches.

Giving Persing the run support Montgomery did yesterday is pouring gasoline on the fire. And when Montgomery went up 3-0, Bucktail already was facing quite an uphill battle. Persing helped produce a first-inning run, walking, moving to second on Raemsch’s bunt, going to third on a wild pitch and scoring on Taylor McRae’s grounder. McRae was hit by a bases-loaded pitch and Brynn McRae hit an RBI grounder two innings later, making it 3-0.

Bucktail third baseman Lily Francis prevented Montgomery from doing more damage throughout the game. The sophomore started a rally-killing double play in the second inning and later snared a Brynn McRae liner which looked like it would be a sure single.

“I don’t ever breathe a sigh of relief until that game is over with them because I know (Bucktail coach) Mike (Poorman) is a great coach and there are a lot of good athlete there. At any time they could do the same thing to us,” Glenn said. “I’m pretty happy with the outcome. Faith pitched well, the defense played well, we hit, we didn’t strand as many runners and that one inning we really broke it open. I was happy with the whole team performance today.”

Bucktail 000 000–0 3 1

Montgomery 102 601–10 8 0

Makenzie Wagner, Emma Poorman (3), Wagner (5) and Haley Burrows. Faith Persing and Shelby McRae. W–Persing, (10-0). L–Wagner, (5-1).

Top Bucktail hitters: J. Burrows 1-3; H. Burrows 1-3; Alexis Lowery 1-1. Top Montgomery hitters: Kaylei Snyder 2-3, 3 RBIs, 2 runs; Kaitlyn Raemsch 1-2, 2 RBIs, 2 runs; Taylor McRae 1-3, 3 RBIs, run; Shelby McRae 1-3, 2B, run; Sammy Ulrich 1-2, run; Jenna Waring 1-3; Brynn McRae 1-4, RBI, run; Persing 3 BBs, 2 runs.

Records: Montgomery (11-0), Bucktail (8-4).

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