“He’s a dynamic player on both sides of the ball. He can change the game with his speed, power and glove.”
That’s what senior pitcher Trace Dempsey had to say about the Ohio State baseball team’s sophomore outfielder, Troy Montgomery.
Montgomery has had a massive impact in the Buckeyes’ 24 wins and serves as a consistent player at bat with a .322 batting average. He has almost doubled his runs from last season with 31 on 39 hits and has more than quadrupled his 2014 stolen base total with 18 on 20 attempts this season.
“Montgomery’s a nightmare on the base paths for pitchers,” Dempsey said. “He’s really come through for us in the leadoff spot while making a lot of fantastic plays in the outfield to save us some runs.”
For the sophomore, the word “athlete” has always been a part of his life. But after beginning to play baseball at the age of three, his father encouraged him to pursue the sport more seriously at the age of eight.
“He really wanted me to play baseball, so I did and I love it,” Montgomery said. “My dad has been my biggest supporter my whole career and he pushed me the entire way.”
Starting in Fortville, Ind., as a young child in T-ball and working his way up through the Indiana Bandits and Indiana Bulls travel leagues, Montgomery said he didn’t become confident till late in his career.
“I really didn’t find myself in baseball till my sophomore year of high school. I got a little bit bigger and things just started to click for me,” Montgomery said.
Things have been consistently clicking for Montgomery since he went into his freshman year at OSU as the No. 11 prospect according to the Prep Baseball Report. He played in 49 of the Buckeyes’ 58 games that season. Now in his second year in Columbus, Montgomery has earned the position as leadoff batter and continues to flourish on the field.
“He’s matured from last season. Troy Montgomery is a really talented kid,” coach Greg Beals said. “He’s got pop in his bat, he can run, he can play defense and he can throw. He may be the best professional prospect on our team. He’s a full package player, he has it all.”
Regardless of future potential, Montgomery said he’s focused on doing his part to help the Buckeyes win games.
“My job is to get on second base and steal bags,” he said. “My job is to be on second base and allow (Connor) Sabanosh, (Pat) Porter and (Ronnie) Dawson to score me at some point in the inning,” Montgomery said.
Beals said Montgomery is confident in his ability, but added he’s not a finished product.
“That’s a kid that’s learning the game, that’s understanding the game,” Beals said. “And that’s the difference between playing hard and competing and right now he’s competing. He’s starting to figure out the little things that make a difference in how good you can be.”
Montgomery said success is all about “believing and trusting yourself, your hands and your swing to get the job done.”
But the main goal of winning games comes from a confidence and belief throughout the entire Buckeye roster and staff, he said.
“Our team chemistry is unreal right now. People aren’t selfish, they’re going to work their hardest to get the job done for the team, to win as a team,” Montgomery said.
The 2015 Buckeyes set their goal this year at 40 wins, a Big Ten title and a shot in the NCAAs, and for Montgomery, the success of OSU comes from the Buckeyes’ preparation and teamwork.
“Preparation, working day in and day out, that’s how you find success,” Montgomery said. “You can’t win the game by yourself, baseball will not allow you to do that. So when you have a good group of guys that can back you, it makes everyone’s job so much easier.”
As the Buckeyes prepare for another Big Ten series this weekend against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Montgomery stressed the importance of focusing on the task at hand.
“We just have to continue to take one game at a time and know our roles in the box and know our roles on the field,” Montgomery said. “And just continue to click on all cylinders and trust ourselves to get the job done and get these three wins.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to travel to Lincoln, Neb., with the three games set for Friday at 7:35 p.m., Saturday at 3:05 p.m. and Sunday at 2:05 p.m.