White Sox pick Montgomery at 22nd overallJuly 11, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG - The crowd cheered and roared at Gaslight Pizza & Grill Sunday evening as the Chicago White Sox selected Southridge graduate Colson Montgomery with the 22nd overall pick in the 2021 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Montgomery was one of eight players invited to the draft in Denver, and some in attendance at his draft party at Gaslight were frustrated with each passing pick that his name was not called.
But then, more began to get excited when the news spread he would go to 22nd overall.
Raiders baseball coach Gene Mattingly, who was not in attendance at the party, spoke to Montgomery earlier in the day hours before the big moment.
"We just kind of talked about today wasn't the destination, today's kind of the first step in the next chapter of his journey," Mattingly said. "For me and our staff and our community and program, we were fortunate that he was part of it - and me personally very fortunate I got to be part of his four years of high school. And we're so excited for what's in store and what he has ahead of him."
Southridge saw Montgomery's potential to be drafted when he was a freshman, but Mattingly told him he had to improve defensively. Mattingly noted that Montgomery improved his defense to put himself on track that culminated with what happened Sunday evening.
"Athletes are athletes, and you can coach - and sometimes you can overcoach," he said. "With some of our elite athletes, it's putting them in positions to get the most out of their athleticism, and for Colson, it was a couple minor changes we made defensively, and a couple minor tweaks we made offensively. But (neither) myself nor our coaching staff is going to take credit for what happened today."
Mattingly told The Herald that Montgomery was a presence from Day One, and the program is forever grateful. He hailed his work ethic for always being there. Scouts asked Mattingly what type of kid he is - if he could take instruction and criticism well, which he did.
He pointed out that Montgomery's character and integrity was never in question, and was always willing to put the team first.
Montgomery performed to become a two-time state runner-up and one-time state champion - and now, a Major League Baseball first round draft pick.
"The Raiders could've had a miserable season this year - I mean, look what they dealt with," Jasper coach Terry Gobert said before state. "I dealt with that with (Scott) Rolen in '93. It can really pull a team apart - all of the scouts, that could wear Gene out. And he found a way to handle it and Montgomery handled it with class, and the other kids understood it."
Mattingly appreciated such sentiments, but refused to take credit for that.
"I wasn't the one that scouts were there to see - it was Colson, and he took an active role in not allowing that to be a distraction for himself or the team," he said. "And he and I sat down early on and kind of talked through what to expect, and he was on board from the get go on how we would handle as a group, as a team and as a program kind of what that would look like.
"Neither one of us knew kind of what it would turn into, but we would not allow it to be a detriment to the team," Mattingly continued. "He was on board with that from the get go. His goal was to be his very best and help our team win. He had been in two state finals and lost, his goal was to win a state finals, and he wasn't going to allow any of that to be a distraction."
Former Southridge athlete Cade Patton, a 2020 graduate, was on hand at Gaslight, among many others who went to school with him, ecstatic that his friend got the call.
"I would like to say Colson, good luck with the rest of your life, buddy," Patton said. "I know it's going to be hard, but you're going to do great, buddy. Love you."
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