If winning is the expectation, Jaret Montenery desired to be among those setting an example for the Waccamaw baseball team.
“After last year, I wasn’t satisfied,” he said.
This coming from one of the state’s top prospects, having committed last fall to play at Winthrop University once his time on the prep circuit is done. But when more is asked and expected, Montenery wanted to be prepared for any and everything.
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While his 5-3 record may not look all that imposing, ask any opposing coach who faced him and they’ll tell you he’s the real deal.
“When he’s out there, (Waccamaw) is as good as anyone in the state,” said St. James baseball coach Robbie Centracchio. “He’s that good.”
Over the course of the 2017 season, his 1.68 ERA was among the best in the area, combined with his 73 strikeouts and two saves. More importantly, when needed for big games the Warriors’ workhorse was more than reliable.
Against South Strand rival St. James and Region VI-3A foe Aynor —both playoff teams — Montenery was 4-0, helping Waccamaw to a share of a league title and a trip to the Lower State 3A tournament.
I put a lot on myself to be the best me that I could, and make it a point to have a good game and a good season to help our team go as far as we could.
Waccamaw baseball standout Jaret Montenery
Even when not on the mound, he proved to be quite the catalyst for his team’s success, batting .429 with 17 RBIs and 21 runs scored. Montenery also logged an on-base percentage of .585, allowing him the opportunity to swipe a few bases this season as well.
“This past offseason, I worked constantly to get bigger and stronger,” he said. “I refined my mechanics in the box and worked on pitching because I figured my workload would grow. The work put in [during] the offseason really set the tone, and it showed this past baseball season.”
His stellar work earned him Class 3A all-state baseball honors, on top of being an all-Region VI-3A performer. However, the local standout can add one more to his growing resume — The Sun News’ 2017 Toast of the Coast Baseball Player of the Year.
“Every night, I knew I had to come to work. Every pitch, every out was important … not just for me, but my team,” Montenery said. “I put a lot on myself to be the best me that I could, and make it a point to have a good game and a good season to help our team go as far as we could.”
Maybe the best part for Montenery is that he’s able to share in the good times with his younger brother, Luke.
“We’ve been (playing together) for as long as I can remember,” the older of the two Montenery boys said. “Honestly, I think I am tougher on him than I am on other teammates.
“But I can always count on him, and him on me. We always have each other’s back.”
Moving from Ohio a few years ago, the Waccamaw ace didn’t exactly know how to approach the program’s longtime coach, Jeff Gregory. However, in that time, he’s come to understand the Warrior skipper’s brand of tough love, and is thankful for how much Gregory has invested in him.
“He’s been tough, but always has the best in mind for us, always wanting us to strive for the best,” Montenery said. “If not for him, I don’t know exactly where I would be.
“I don’t know of a more deserving coach of a state championship. It would be a great accomplishment and something all of us in the Waccamaw program are striving for. Hopefully, with the talent we have returning, we can make it a special season for him, our team, our athletic program and our city.”
This is the 10th and final installment in a 10-day series honoring the top athletes from the spring high school sports season.
2017 Toast of the Coast Baseball Team
Player of the Year
Notable: The Winthrop commitment finished with a 5-3 record on the mound this season, with a 1.68 ERA and 73 strikeouts, along with notching a pair of saves. He also batted .429 with 17 RBIs and 21 runs scored. His contribution helped the Warriors to a share of the Region VI-3A crown and a berth in the Lower State 3A tournament.
School: Green Sea Floyds
Notable: Saw time as a pitcher and infielder for the Trojans, doing his part to help the club to the Lower State A tournament.
School: Myrtle Beach
Notable: The ace of the Seahawks’ pitching staff, he went 5-1 this season to lead his team to a Region VII-4A title. He also threw a no-hitter, further helping his case for all-Region VII-4A and North-South all-star recognition.
School: Myrtle Beach
Notable: Hit .424 this past season, hitting eight home runs while earning 17 RBIs. He also had nine doubles, and scored 28 runs en route to scoring a spot on the Class 4A all-state and first team Region VII-4A baseball teams.
Notable: Voted the Region VI-3A Player of the Year and a member of the Class 3A all-state team, he batted .280 with three home runs and 17 RBIs. He also had eight doubles. He was also solid as a pitcher, going 7-2 with a 1.08 ERA in 58 1/3 innings pitched, striking out 77 batters.
School: St. James
Notable: Voted the Region VII-4A Player of the Year along with being named to the Class 4A all-state team, he batted .402 with four home runs and 25 RBIs. In addition, he had 10 doubles.
School: North Myrtle Beach
Notable: Led the Chiefs in hitting with a .367 average and eight doubles during the 2017 baseball season, allowing him to cross the plate on 27 occasions. He also was 2-0 on the mound, striking out 24 batters in 23 2/3 innings pitched — earning him an ERA of 0.00.
School: Carolina Forest
Notable: Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the recently completed MLB Draft, he finished the season with a record of 4-3, striking out 65 batters in 40 1/3 innings pitched. His 1.56 ERA was among the state’s best, allowing him to receive all-Region VI-5A, Class 5A all-state and S.C. Select all-star honors.
Notable: Led Braves in most statistical categories, hitting .380 with a home run, six doubles and 14 RBIs. He also had a .489 on-base percentage and .550 average with runners in scoring position. Lane stole seven bases as well.
School: Carolina Forest
Notable: In his first year of varsity action settled behind the plate, the Charleston Southern signee batted .325 with three home runs, five doubles and 19 RBIs. For his work, he earned Class 5A all-state recognition, along with being named to the S.C. Select all-star team.
Notable: A member of the all-Region VI-3A, Class 3A all-state and S.C. Select all-star team, the Bulldogs standout batted .365 this past season with seven RBIs. He had only two strikeouts in 91 plate appearances, with an on-base percentage of .478. He also was solid on the mound, striking out 51 opposing batters in 40 1/3 innings, earning an ERA of 2.08.
Notable: Batted .401 with three home runs and 22 RBIs for Conway, helping lead a young group of Tigers to the postseason. His work also earned him all-Region VI-5A recognition.
Notable: A member of both the all-Region VI-3A and Class 3A all-state team, he batted .319 for the Blue Jackets, hitting 10 home runs and knocking in 32 RBIs, helping his team to a share of its league title and a berth in the Lower State 3A tournament.
Notable: Batted .385 for the Tigers this past season, hitting two home runs and nine doubles, while earning 15 RBIs. He also pitched 51 innings this past season for Conway, going 6-5 with a 2.86 ERA to go along with 32 strikeouts.
Coach of the Year
School: Myrtle Beach
Notable: Led Myrtle Beach to a 14-11 record, but more importantly a 7-1 mark in Region VII-4A play and a league championship.