Trailing Fresno State, 9-1, after four innings during a tournament in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Feb. 18, the Titans needed a spark.
Sophomore center fielder Ariana Williams was brought in. Standing in the batter’s box, she was nervous. Not scared, just nervous. She took a deep breath. She told herself she had been here many times before, when she was working out before class, before the Titans’ practice. She had put in the time to prepare.
She got a hit. The Titans rallied, and although the team fell short, 12-11, Williams had arrived.
“I realized that if you can just trust the work you put in, things can pan out,” Williams said.
Now, Williams is batting .337, second on the 2017 Big West Conference champion team, and has racked up three home runs, 30 runs scored, 16 RBI and a team-high 24 stolen bases.
Her freshman year, the 2016 season, didn’t seem as promising. She didn’t feel she was up to par offensively, namely with her swing, and she was given the option to redshirt the season, to save a year of eligibility while she improved her game.
Williams wanted no such thing. She knew she probably wouldn’t get much playing time, but she was willing to take the risk. If she didn’t play, she didn’t play. But she would make sure she challenged herself, so she didn’t redshirt the year.
“That was definitely the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make regarding softball,” Williams said. “It’s always something I’m going to be thankful for even after I stop playing softball.”
“It made me a lot stronger,” Williams said.
She worked on her swing every morning before class, and the extra time paid off. The rookie led the team with 22 stolen bases in 2016. She ranked third on the team with 27 runs scored, earning five starts…