Photo by Darius Horton / MTSU Sidelines
Anyone who follows baseball knows that pitcher is perhaps the most important position on the team. In terms of physical demands, it is one of the hardest positions in sports to excel at.
A good pitcher can help turn the tide of a game and almost single handedly win the contest for their team. Any squad that wants to find long-term success knows that they must have a solid pitching rotation to help them attain their goal.
The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders are stacked from top to bottom with premier talent. Among the pitchers in their rotation, Sophomore righty Grant Williams stands out as a young stud.
His work ethic has won him praise from Head Coach Jim McGuire.
“He was a different pitcher when he came back from summer ball; he had been working on his breaking ball and making his fastball more consistent,” McGuire said. “He’s a good competitor that has progressively gotten better. He’s becoming more of what we thought he could be every week.”
Williams attended high school in Hendersonville, Tennessee, where he was a star pitcher for his team. His list of accolades from his prep career are nothing short of impressive, including 2015 District 9-AAA MVP and Sumner County Player of the year.
During his time in high school, Williams was named to the All-State Team, the All-District Team and All-District Tournament Teams.
His junior year of school was when he really set himself apart from the pack. Williams posted a 1.31 ERA with 69 strikeouts, and held batters he faced to a .165 batting average.
Proving that he could also hit, Williams posted a .358 batting average to go along with three home runs and 32 RBIs. His batting average improved to .404 his senior year.
When he became a recruit, Williams was considered to be a top 1,000 prospect in the nation by perfectgame.org, and the 18th-ranked pitcher in the state.
Ultimately, his decision to come to Murfreesboro came down to how close it was to home and how comfortable he felt with the staff.
“It’s close to home, and it’s a school with quality coaches that care about their players,” Williams said. “That’s a big thing for me.”
From the beginning of his collegiate career, Williams has displayed flashes of his potential and posted some impressive stat lines. He appeared in 13 games as a freshman, including 7 starts, but posted a 0-3 record. Despite the lack of wins, those flashes showed his true ability.
So far for this season, Williams has shown tremendous progress as a college pitcher. He has two shut-out wins against Memphis and Austin Peay that saw him go for six innings in each those starts.
Williams is currently the midweek starter for the Raiders. He boasts a 4.02 ERA and opposing batters are only hitting for a .200 average against him.
Not only is Williams a good athlete, he is also an excellent student after making the Commissioner’s Honor Roll his freshman year.
He offered up some advice for up-and-coming high school athletes who are looking to continue their baseball career on the collegiate level.
“There’s a lot more to it than you think,” Williams said. “I came in here as a freshman thinking I knew it all. Come in here with an open mind, and be ready to get after it because it’s a grind.”
The Blue Raiders will play a three-game set against Charlotte this weekend, and will be looking for some revenge from when these teams played last season. Middle Tennessee dropped all three games to the 49ers last year, and will need to rely on their revamped roster to flip the script and win.
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