FORTVILLE — On the baseball diamond, Troy Montgomery is always in a hurry.
The Mt. Vernon senior bats leadoff and patrols centerfield, two positions that require a sense of urgency in order to be played correctly.
Initially, Montgomery embraced a similar approach when came to deciding where he wanted to play collegiate baseball. He committed to the University of Illinois in late April after making two trips to the school’s campus in Champaign.
Then, as his summer season hit full swing, Montgomery realized brevity wasn’t the best course of action regarding his baseball future. After much thought, Montgomery withdrew his commitment to Illinois in favor of Ohio State.
“At that moment (committing to Illinois), I was in shock that a college wanted me,” Montgomery admitted. “I took it too fast. I really didn’t explore my options.
“Illinois is a great school. I just felt like a jumped into everything too fast.”
Mt. Vernon baseball coach Dustin Glant wasn’t directly involved in Montgomery’s initial commitment to Illinois.
“It was a decision the Montgomerys made, and we talked with Troy throughout and said, ‘It’s OK if you get cold feet. It’s not the end of the world,’” said Glant, entering his second season in Fortville. “It’s something they decided as a family and decided they wanted to re-open some options, take a deep breath and a step back.”
Following his decommitment from the Fighting Illini, Montgomery spent his summer playing travel baseball with the Indiana Bulls, competing in tournaments around the Hoosier State as well as in Missouri and Georgia. He was recently in New York for the East Coast Professional Showcase, an event Montgomery said was attended by professional baseball scouts.
Glant went through the recruiting process while he was at Wayne High School in Ft. Wayne, and he serves as the Indiana coordinator for STUDENTathleteWorld.com, an organization that educates and consults prospective collegiate athletes. The former Purdue pitcher said the pressure of attempting to choose the right school can be overwhelming for a teenager.
“It’s grueling because always in the back of your mind is, ‘Am I making the right decision? Am I making the wrong decision?’ You just wish you had a fortune teller to tell you which way is going to make you happy in the end,” Glant said. “Unfortunately that’s not how it works.”
Montgomery developed a new list of schools and narrowed his four potential destinations to North Carolina State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Texas Christian before settling on the Buckeyes.
“Once I opened (his recruitment) back up, Ohio State jumped into the picture. I really loved Ohio State,” offered the two-time All-Hancock County selection. “It wasn’t one particular thing — I loved the atmosphere, the baseball, the program, the school and they had my degree program (orthodontics) I want to go into.”
Next spring, the Buckeyes will enter their third season under the tutelage of Greg Beals, who was the head man at Ball State for eight seasons before bolting for Columbus. Prior to last season, OSU installed a new turf field at Bill Davis Stadium — with a heavy assist from former Scarlet and Gray player and current New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher, who donated $500,000 to the project — something Montgomery called a “bonus.”
“It’s easier for an outfielder with turf,” he mentioned, “considering you don’t have to worry about bad hops.”
To his point in his career at Mt. Vernon, Montgomery hasn’t done much of anything wrong on the field. As a sophomore, he hit .516 (second-best in the county) while scoring 32 runs, swatting eight home runs, driving in 23 runs and leading the county with 27 stolen bases as MV won its first sectional crown since 1995.
Montgomery followed up that success by compiling a .446 average as a junior (third-best in county) and stealing 15 bases — good for second-most in the county — in addition to recording an on-base percentage of .514.
New Palestine coach Shawn Lyons, who directed the Dragons’ pitching staff for 10 years before taking over as head coach last season, said it’s “not easy” to call pitches against Montgomery.
“First of all, he doesn’t have many holes at the plate. You try to throw different pitches to no avail,” said Lyons, who guided NP to a semistate birth this spring. “He presents tremendous obstacles when he gets on base because you know he’s going to steal. He’s one of the best base stealers I’ve been around.
“And he’s as good as it gets in center field. There are a lot of schools that would love to have him.”
Upon his arrival in the Buckeye State, Montgomery wants to capture a Big Ten Championship and win a College World Series — something no Big Ten team has accomplished since OSU won the CWS in 1966.
His dream is to play the major leagues, but Montgomery is realistic with his ultimate baseball aspirations, hence the emphasis on choosing a school with an orthodontics program.
As far as his current team, Montgomery hopes to spearhead a 2013 turnaround for a Marauder squad that fell to 10-16 last spring after going 18-10 in 2011.
“I want to be a mentor for the younger guys. I want them to think that this is a winning program,” he explained. “I want them to continue to have success at Mt. Vernon and to win state, of course.”
Montgomery also has some individual improvements he’d like to make before the start of next season.
“I want to see the ball better. I swing at some bad pitches sometimes,” he said. “I want to hit the ball all over the field, to spray the ball.”
The future tender of teeth, whose style of play is based on Road Runner-esque zeal, paused before finishing his answer.
“And stealing, actually,” he added. “I’ve been getting some bad jumps.”
Hancock County senior student-athletes who have made college athletic commitments:
Katie Peters, soccer, Indiana University, Division I
Troy Montgomery, baseball, Ohio State, Division I
Rachel Houck, softball, Louisville, Division I
Maggie McLean, Grace College, softball, NAIA
Erin Lehman, softball, Indiana University, Division I
Lizzie Garrison, softball, Asbury University, NAIA
Know of any athlete missing from this list? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (317) 477-3227.