The homecoming queen is swinging a mean bat

GLEN – Shane Montgomery hates to intentionally walk a batter. As a matter of fact, he’s walked very few in 27 years of coaching softball.
That all changed Aug. 22 when Montgomery’s North Pontotoc team crossed paths with Alcorn Central slugger Samantha Sagely.
Montgomery pitched twice to Sagely and she blasted two home runs … over the fence. “They went way across the road,” the coach said.
Alcorn Central’s blonde bomber came to the plate twice in the later innings with the bases loaded. Montgomery walked her both times, even though it meant giving up a run.
“I’d seen all I wanted to see of her,” he said. “She can swing the bat. She’s the real deal.”
Sagely, who set a school record with her 12 slow-pitch homers last season, has belted eight this season.
The 5-foot-8, 140-pound outfielder, who was recently named homecoming queen, laughed when she was told about Montgomery’s comments.
“The fence (at North Pontotoc) is about 245 feet,” she said. “They weren’t expecting it. It was a good feeling to put two over.”
Montgomery says both homers more than cleared the fence. “There was no barely to it,” he emphasized.
Sagely expects intentional walks to become common for the remainder of the season, especially when a game is on the line.
Earning the respect of coaches is gratifying, but frustrating, too, she says.
“It makes you mad when you work your tail off every day and then they take it away from you,” she said. “It’s like working hard for a piece of candy, then not getting to eat it.
“I guess I better get used to it.”
Alcorn Central coach Nellie Massengill said her slugger has learned how to adjust in the batter’s box and hit just about any pitch that’s thrown.
“They tried to pitch her outside the other day at North Pontotoc,” the coach recalled. “She turned around in the box and hit it out. That was the first (homer) she’s hit to the opposite field.”

‘All or nothing’
Sagely believes her power comes from a change she made at the plate.
“I’m focusing more on turning my hips and not worrying about my stride,” she said. “I swing as hard as I can. It’s all or nothing.”
Sagely takes an aggressive approach to all the sports she participates in – fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball, soccer and track.
She plays sweeper on the Lady Bears soccer team and has won state championships in the triple jump and long jump. Last spring, she set the Class 3A record with a triple jump of 37-feet, 10-inches. That came a week after she suffered a hamstring injury in the North state meet.
She won the long jump as a sophomore in the 2007 state meet.
“I love track; I’ve gotten a lot better,” she said. “I’ve gotten a lot of letters from colleges. Track’s something I’m good at and I like the challenge, but I think I’ll probably play (college) softball.
“Fast-pitch softball gives me a rush. I love everything about it.”
Massengill believes Sagely will excel in any sport she chooses to compete in on the college level.
“She’s a true athlete all the way around,” the coach said. “She’s the best I’ve ever seen.”
Another plus, Massengill adds, is Sagely’s work ethic and attitude.
“She works out all the time, lifts weights,” she said. “The kids love Sam. She has a wonderful attitude. She encourages our young players and is willing to do anything to make our team better.”

Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal