HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) – The toughest part to the end of a season is saying goodbye to players who will no longer put on a uniform.
Southern Miss baseball sends off three seniors – Hunter Riggins, Drew Boyd and Gabe Montenegro.
“Drew Boyd, he’s been my roommate for five years,” said USM junior 2nd baseman Will McGillis. “I love the guy to death. These are like the best times of our lives. And Hunter Riggins was only here for a year but the impact he had on the team was tremendous. I told Gabe he’s one of the best players in Southern Miss history. No one’s ever going to forget him around here.”
“I feel like [Montenegro]’s been here since I was growing up,” said USM sophomore shortstop Dustin Dickerson. “I love him and everybody else loves him as well and we’re definitely going to miss him.”
It’s funny to think a kid from Guatemala is about as Southern Mississippi as one can get.
Montenegro is blue-collar, just like the university. Coming from a country where baseball was an afterthought, he showed enough in his few years of American high school ball to catch the eye of USM.
“I have tremendous respect for him, how he came out and worked every day, what he brought to our program and representing,” said USM head coach Scott Berry. “There’s not many programs that have the Guatemala national flag flying out in the outfield but they do here don’t they?”
“He’s the happiest guy on the field at all times,” said USM junior 3rd baseman Danny Lynch. “He’s just always in a great mood. I think if anything describes Southern Miss it’s Gabe. Coming all the way from Guatemala you would’ve never thought he made it here. His parents don’t live he but it feels like they do and his brother’s here. That’s what’s great about Southern Miss is it’s such a family affair.”
As if the story wasn’t poetic enough, Montenegro afforded the chance to play his sixth and final season alongside brother Rodrigo.
In his school-record 260th game, Montenegro’s final at-bat resulted in hit No. 319 – ranking him second on USM’s all-time list.
“Throughout my career I’ve seen players come and go,” Montenegro said. “I can tell all the hard work that the players have put on and just the progress that we all made throughout the years. And you know I’m just really honored that I was able to come to this program and I’m just thankful for coach Berry and all the coaches who gave me the chance. And even though this is the end, I know this program, I know these players and they’re going to keep working. And they’re going to come stronger next year.”
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