It took a trip to the New York State tournament for the Montgomery Minors softball team to find some adversity.
They had been undefeated in both the District 19 and Section 3 North tournaments, and advanced to the New York State semifinals before their run was ended by Long Island’s North Bellmore-North Merrick, 16-1 in four innings, on July 25 at the Brighton Little League Complex, near Rochester.
“It was amazing,” Montgomery manager Bob Leonard said. “Don’t get me wrong, we ran into some buzzsaws up there, but to be the top four in the state out of 500 teams is pretty impressive.”
It ended a special run for Montgomery, which didn’t see them lose until their second game at State’s but saw them suffer two losses to North Bellmore-North Merrick. The first time, Montgomery hung tough until North Bellmore-North Merrick pulled away.
Then, in the semifinals, they took out the bats and beat up on Montgomery in four innings.
“We ran into some hammers out there and we certainly had tears, but we battled through,” Leonard said. “And I explained it to the girls. I told them, ‘you’re going to be able to tell everybody you played in the state semifinals, regardless of the score.”
Montgomery was a little shorthanded as their third baseman and cleanup hitter Shannon Hamilton was forced to miss the tournament for a family vacation that couldn’t be refunded or rescheduled.
Her father, Marc Hamilton, is the league president and he helped rescue the league from folding and combining with another area league.
“He took over and got a good board, and the board did great for us,” Leonard said. “It’s been amazing. Since then, the community’s been good. The politicians came out. They came out on opening day. I think we had everybody there and we had the parade just like old times. It’s been really good to see a comeback, especially for the boys and girls. Hopefully, it keeps going.”
The community also came out to help Montgomery get to Rochester. The players fundraised by standing outside of Montgomery ShopRite to raise money. A GoFundMe page helped raise $7,580 to put toward the trip. Medline donated $5,000 to the program.
The trip was almost completely paid for before any of the families had to spend a penny.
“It is awesome for the community to do that,” Leonard said.
Montgomery began play on Wednesday, July 20. They played the next day before getting July 22 off. It gave the players a day to unwind and relax for the day.
“A bunch of us went to the Seaside Amusement Park,” Leonard said. “Some of them went to the zoo and the Strong Museum of Play. I know people went to Lake Ontario swimming. It’s hard to stay together the whole time.”
And then it was back to action for the next three days. Even though it didn’t end the way the team wanted, it’s a memory the players and coaches will hold forever.
“It’s a lot of work but it’s a great memory,” Leonard said. “I’ll remember these kids forever and it’s something I could put in my back pocket, that our team made it to the state semifinals. Just amazing.”