Monarchs Hoping to Regain Throne
By CODY TOMER
GLEN DALE — Spring has not gone according to plan for long-time baseball coach Bob Montgomery and his Monarchs.
On March 1, the beautiful baseball field at John Marshall was flooded and the work to fix it up for the season is still ongoing, but Montgomery knows that the Monarchs will get their field back and it will be better than ever.
“Our kids are hanging in there,” Montgomery said. “They are resilient. We will probably have to play a lot of our early games in the season on the road until the field is playable but the kids are anxious to play.
“We have been using the gym, the parking lot and Wheeling Central has been great to us, allowing us to use the I-470 fields. Everybody is jumping in and the community has given financial contributions and manual labor. Very soon people will drive by and see a beautiful place again.”
Last season was also a difficult time for Montgomery as he missed time with illness but he is back and ready for the 2017 campaign.
“I am healthy, I was a referee during basketball season and I am ready to go,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery is entering his 43rd year at the helm of John Marshall and he is one of three high school coaches in West Virginia to have won more than 800 career games.
“I am truly blessed,” Montgomery said. “We are going to bust it this year to get John Marshall baseball back to where it used to be.”
JM won 28 of 38 sectional titles under Montgomery but has fallen to Morgantown in the sectional final each of the last four years. Last year, the Monarchs finished with a 9-14 record, which the skipper hopes to improve this year.
“We have a nice program, which has won a lot over the years,” Montgomery said. “We are fighting hard to bounce back this year.”
Montgomery returns five seniors to this year’s club who can make a difference in filling the void.
Seniors Logan Grimm (SS/P), Chris Purcell (1B/P), Hunter Keller (2B/P), Steven Bailey (3B/P) and Brandon Gonchoff (OF), along with junior B.B. Santimarion (LF/P/SS) and sophomore Chaz McCool (C ) are all returning letterwinners for the Monarchs.
“Grimm is our leading pitcher, who won five games last year and hit .459, while earning an all-state special mention,” Montgomery said. “When Grimm pitches, Santimarino will play shortstop.”
Grimm was also an all-valley third-team selection, as well as an all-conference OVAC member, while Purcell raked at a .385 clip in 2016 and Santimarino claimed two victories on the mound.
Junior Logan Bee is the starting center fielder for the Monarchs, while sophomore Shane Dobbs gets the nod in right field and both will see time on the mound.
John Marshall juniors consist of Grant Fisher (2B/P), Kyle Reilly (3B/OF/P), Austin Littell (IF/OF) and Marshall Kidd (IF/OF), while John Davis (C/OF) rounds out the sophomore class.
“We are lucky that nine of the 14 kids we have can pitch,” Montgomery said. “We have some kids coming back with pitching experience and I think we are going to be okay in that area.
“Our offense needs to improve, though. We need to hit better and score more runs if we want to improve on last year’s record. Hopefully, we can sure up the defense, too. You can never give up extra outs.”
Helping Montgomery in the dugout are assistant coaches Roger Simmons, Aaron Simmons, Dave Coffield and Sabrina Montgomery.
March 22: at Weir 4 p.m.
March 23: Parkersburg 5 p.m.
March 24: University 5 p.m.
March 28: Parkersburg South 5 p.m.
March 29: at Brooke 6:30 p.m.
March 30: Wheeling Central 5 p.m.
March 31: North Marion 5 p.m.
April 1: Beaver Local (2) 11 a.m.
April 3: Morgantown 5 p.m.
April 4: Wheeling Park 5 p.m.
April 6: Magnolia 5 p.m.
April 11: Weir 5:30 p.m.
April 14: Linsly noon
April 15: at Union Local (2) 12 p.m.
April 17: Brooke 5 p.m.
April 18: at Wheeling Central 5 p.m.
April 19: at University 5 p.m.
April 20: at Park.South 6:30 p.m.
April 21: at Morgantown 5 p.m.
April 22: at North Marion 5:30 p.m.
April 24: at Wheeling Park 5 p.m.
April 25: at Bellaire 5 p.m.
April 27: at Oak Glen 5 p.m.
April 28: Bellaire 5 p.m.
May 1: Linsly 5 p.m.
May 2: at Magnolia 5 p.m.
May 3: Oak Glen 5:30 p.m.
May 4: at Parkersburg 5 p.m.