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Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon / Chattanooga Christian senior third baseman Rafe Montgomery has made a successful return to the baseball diamond after missing his previous two seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic and an ACL injury.

Rafe Montgomery's senior year of high school has been everything he has asked for and more.

This past fall, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Montgomery made plays as an all-region linebacker for Chattanooga Christian School's football team, including four sacks and three interceptions in 10 games.

Making it through the season healthy was an accomplishment, too, after Montgomery tore his ACL the previous two seasons, doing so during the opener as a sophomore and in the playoffs as a junior. Now, for the first time, he has been able to enjoy the spring as a varsity baseball player for the Chargers.

"Being out on the baseball diamond with my teammates has been awesome," Montgomery said. "Baseball was my favorite sport growing up in Atlanta as I went to a lot of Braves games and played travel ball every summer. I kind of forgot what I loved about the game after not being able to play the last two seasons. To get back out there with my team and just have fun has meant everything to me."

CCS baseball coach Ben Wharton sat in the stands during football games this school year hoping and praying Montgomery would not get hurt. When Montgomery was a freshman, his coach noticed his competitive desire as he pushed teammates despite his age and always hustled even while playing exclusively on junior varsity.

Montgomery's return to baseball included a five-game stretch from March 17-25 in which he hit his first three varsity home runs, against Marion County, Gordon Lee and Silverdale Baptist. In a game at South Pittsburg during that span, he stole four bases and scored the winning run in a 14-13 victory. He shares the team lead with 10 steals this season.

"He hit a home run against Gordon Lee that was an absolute tank to left field. It was way out of their park," Wharton raved. "That was a big game for us to win. That was really fun to see. This season has been a lot of firsts for him, which is rare for a senior of his talent. I am so glad he is able to play and enjoy this season with the guys around him."

Much like in football, where he moved from defensive back to linebacker, Montgomery has been able to adjust wherever his coaches put him. Wharton placed him at third base, and he has held down the position — the same one played by Austin Riley, his favorite Atlanta Brave — with good range and a strong arm.

With just a few weeks left of high school ball and graduation around the corner, Montgomery hopes to hit his first opposite-field home run. Most importantly, he simply wants to savor every last moment with the Chargers.

"So much has been taken away. Now it's about appreciating what time I do have left," he said. "Everybody always says how quickly time goes, and I am definitely realizing that with high school almost being over. Not only am I appreciating the moments in the games but practices and just being with the team. Even the stuff you may not love, like conditioning and workouts.

"I love those moments because you are with your friends, and these are memories you will always take with you."

Photo Gallery

Chattanooga Christian baseball player Rafe Montgomery

Notre Dame 13, East Hamilton 0: Alec Bouchard allowed two hits and struck out 11 batters in Wednesday's five-inning win for the Fighting Irish (15-9-1). Jacob Eagle was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs scored, with Cooper Jones adding two hits and two RBIs and Bouchard adding two hits, three runs and an RBI.

Boyd-Buchanan 12-11, Grace Baptist Academy 2-2: Cody Johnston was 3-for-3, including a pair of doubles, and drove in seven runs to lead the Buccaneers in game one. Perry Griffin added three hits and two RBIs, and Grant Carlton allowed three hits and an earned run while striking out seven to earn the pitching win in the first game.

Jayden Madison drove in four runs and Brodie Johnson had two hits, an RBI and two runs in game two, where Eli Gardenhire earned the pitching win after going five innings and allowing three hits and one earned run while striking out seven.

 

SOFTBALL

Meigs County 6, Roane County 1: Lainey Fitzgerald allowed two hits and no earned runs while striking out 10 to lead the Lady Tigers (13-2). Sierra Howard was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and Madylin Johnson 2-for-4 with two RBIs for Meigs.

Sequatchie County 19, Signal Mountain 9: Addy Edgmon was 5-for-5, including two triples and a double, drove in four runs and scored four times to lead the Lady Indians to a win Tuesday. Gracie Turner added three hits, three RBIs and four runs, and Megan Hall two hits, one a homer, and four RBIs.

Bledsoe County 3, Sequatchie County 2: Also Tuesday, Ella Baker scattered six hits and struck out eight batters, and Autumn Cooley had two hits to lead Bledsoe. Sequatchie's Edgmon was 3-for-3, including a homer, and stole a pair of bases.

 

GIRLS' SOCCER

Northwest Whitfield 4, Bainbridge 0: The Lady Bruins (14-3) rolled into the GHSA Class AAAA state quarterfinals as Vanessa Coronel scored a pair of goals in the second-round victory.

Heritage 5, Thomas County Central 0: Also in AAAA's second round, Heritage (14-1-1) cruised behind goals from Zoie St. John, Brooke Fairchild, Allie Boyd, Molly Cason and Carol Anne Giannamore.

Southeast Whitfield 7, Islands 0: The Lady Raiders (15-2-3), the No. 3 seed from Region 7-AAAA, won their second consecutive road playoff game as Lesley Alanis had a hat trick.

Lamar County 2, Dade County 0: The Lady Wolverines' season ended at 11-6-1 with the road loss in Class AA's second round.

 

BOYS' SOCCER

Dalton 2, Lakeside-Evans 1: The Catamounts (14-1-3) avoided a possible upset for the second straight round in Class AAAAAA as Fabian Rodriguez scored off a scramble with just more than four minutes to play. Dalton's Yahir Perez scored the game's first goal midway through the first half.

Dalton Academy 9, Lanier County 0: Dalton Academy continued its playoff success in its first season with Tuesday's second-round victory in the Class A public bracket.

 

TENNIS

East Hamilton girls 7, Ooltewah 2: Zoey Burgner, Tenley Yates, Madie Morrison and Elsie Holt won singles matches for East Hamilton.

East Hamilton boys 9, Ooltewah 0: Will Harden, Ethan Prichard, Evan Seo, Josh Hales, Aarev Amin and Seth Norman swept singles for the winners.

McCallie 7, Knoxville Catholic 0: The nationally ranked Blue Tornado cruised to their ninth consecutive win to start the season as Henry Imorde, Richy Jing, Juozos Cioladis, Charlie Griffin, Dylan O'Keefe and Wolfe Sohlberg won singles matches and combined to sweep doubles events.

Roundup reports compiled by Patrick MacCoon and Lindsey Young. Contact them at sports@timefreepress.com.

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