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Friday, June 17, 2011

'Kid' Williams enjoys PG National

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. – It was at last year’s PG WWBA 16u National Championship in Marietta, Ga., where Billy “Nick” Williams most likely earned his invitation to the 2011 Perfect Game National Showcase.

In one game at the WWBA 16u National, Williams was 4-for-4 with three two-run home runs and a solo bomb, good for seven RBIs in an 11-1 win for Houston Banditos Black. In eight games at the tournament, Williams was 12-for-26 (.461) with six home runs and 12 RBIs, and earned MVP honors.

After his four home run game, a Perfect Game blogger said: “Simply put, (Williams) is just ridiculous.”

Billy “Nick” Williams – he said he’d liked to be call Nick although his father, also Billy Williams, refers to his son in conversation as Billy – arrived at the Perfect Game National Showcase at City of Palms Park Friday afternoon without really needing any introduction.

He is the nation’s No. 2-ranked prospect in the class of 2012, behind only Florida right-hander Lance McCullers, who was also at the PG National Friday. Williams, who calls La Marque, Texas, home and will be a senior at Galveston Ball High School in the fall, flashes a broad, easy smile without the slightest provocation.

It is in his nature that he said he really doesn’t feel any pressure performing in front of the more than 100 scouts and college coaches who settled in to watch him and other top prospects play the late game Friday.

“I don’t really try to think about it too much,” Williams said, flashing that smile. “I just try to have fun and enjoy it; try to be a kid.”

His parents, Billy and Annie, take it a little more seriously.

“We’re looking at this experience as something that will benefit Billy – Nick – and we’re hoping it does,” the elder Billy Williams said. “We’re so enamored with all the events that Perfect Game puts on, so we’re happy to be here. We had a lot of stuff going on … but he really wanted to come so we made the time and just came on over here.”

Young Nick Williams seems able to keep things in perspective even as his parents deal with the “whirlwind” of activity surrounding their son’s pursuit of playing baseball at the highest level that presents itself.

“My wife, it’s just been a whirl-wind for her,” the elder Williams said. “We love sports – all of my family has been involved in sports – so this has been more interesting for me. And Billy, he’s just a happy-go-lucky kid, so it’s just been wonderful for him. It’s just been a great experience, but it has been a whirl-wind at times. It’s been a crazy but a fun time.”

When Nick Williams looks back at that four-homer game at the WWBA 16u National Championship, he smiles again. What did you expect?

“It was very exciting – and surprising,” he said. “I was hanging out with the fellas, just hanging around and just playing the game and it just happened.”

After that game, a June 17 article in the Galveston County Daily News quoted Banditos Black coach Hondo Medellin as saying Williams’ swing reminds him of Ken Griffey Jr.

“I have been lucky enough to coach a lot of great players in my career,” the Daily News quoted Medellin as saying. “Billy can be better than all of them. I don’t want to jinx him, but he is an incredible baseball player.”

Williams will be playing with Houston Banditos Black again this summer, the same group he played with in three PG WWBA tournaments last year, including the PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla. He played in the Area Code Games last summer and expects to play in them again this year.

Williams has been playing baseball since he was in first grade, and continues to play football and run track for his Galveston Ball teams. But if he gets an athletic scholarship, it will be for baseball. He said he has been talking with LSU and Texas.

His dad said he saw a transformation about two years ago. And his son’s performance at the WBBA 16u National only cemented his feelings.

“When he was 13 or 14, he was a good football player and I always thought he was a better football player than he was anything,” Billy said. “But certain things I see him doing on the (baseball) field, I say, ‘Wow’ and two years ago I said to him, ‘baseball.’ He started concentrating on it and he really came to the plate.  He’s the one that made it happen last summer at the wood bat tournament.”

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