By Robert Wilson
Braden Montgomery led Madison Central to the MSHAA Class 6A state championship and a No. 1 final national ranking last season.
Montgomery, now a freshman outfielder-pitcher at Stanford, has helped the No. 2 national seed Cardinal reach the College World Series.
The 2021 High School All-American, Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year and Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Player of Year was one of two players who were named multiple position athletes on the Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American team and was named Pac-12 Conference Freshman of the Year.
Montgomery, a switch-hitter, is hitting .297 with 18 homers (a school record for a freshman), 16 doubles, 2 triples, 50 runs, and 57 runs batted in batting in the cleanup position in the lineup. As a right-handed pitcher, he had 2 saves in 15 appearances and struck out 28 batters in 18 2/3 innings.
The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Montgomery hit 2 home runs, scored 4 runs, and had 5 RBIs in the three games in Super Regional. Stanford defeated Connecticut 8-2 and 10-5 in Games 2 and 3 to win the best of three series. Stanford scored six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning but lost 13-12 in Game 1.
Stanford meets Arkansas Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPN in the first round of the College World Series in Omaha. The Stanford-Arkansas winner meets the Ole Miss-Auburn winner in the second round. The Stanford-Arkansas loser meets the Ole Miss-Auburn loser in an elimination game.
“I am certainly proud of Braden and his outstanding season,” Madison Central coach Patrick Robey said. “To win a national championship as a senior in high school and an opportunity to repeat that as a college freshman is nearly a fairytale. But good things happen to good people who work hard. Hard work doesn’t guarantee success, but a lack of hard work guarantees a lack of success. It’s been fun watching the supers. Seeing that big grin on his face is one thing that makes him so easy to cheer for. He plays the game like a kid. Which is what helps keep him loose. What a great example of a true student athlete.”
Montgomery hit .479 and an 9-0 record with a 0.74 earned run average and led Madison Central to a 34-2 record, the 6A state title and a No. 1 national ranking by Baseball America last season as a senior.
He had 46 hits in 96 at-bats, two hits short of hitting an even .500, with 30 runs, 50 runs batted in, 7 doubles, 5 triples, 7 home runs, a .590 on base percentage and a .875 slugging percentage. He had a .935 fielding percentage and made only two errors this season. Montgomery allowed only 17 hits – only two extra base hits (one double and one home run) – and had 116 strikeouts and 27 walks in 56 2/3 innings. Opponents had a .108 batting average against him. Montgomery showed his dominance in the state championship series against Northwest Rankin, allowing only one hit with 15 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings in a 3-2 victory in Game 1. He did not allow a hit until two out in the sixth inning.