In his final start on the mound for the Papermakers, Taylor Williams pitched seven innings at Safeco Field.
The 2010 Camas High School graduate remembers that moment like it was yesterday, but said it doesn’t even compare to the one he had eight days ago. On that day, the 19-year-old was popping the glove at Fenway Park.
“Having the opportunity to pitch at Fenway, which is known as the ‘Cathedral of Stadiums,’ is something you dream about,” Williams said. “You can’t help but think about the history that surrounds that ballpark, and all of the greats who have played there. To be on the same field and in the same spot as those guys is something nobody can take away from you.”
Williams tossed a perfect 1-2-3 fourth inning for the New England Collegiate Baseball All-Stars, who defeated Team USA 3-2 June 27. He induced a pop out and two ground outs. He also retired Arizona State University’s Deven Marrero and Texas Christian University’s Josh Elander, who were both selections in the 2009 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
“I wanted to throw the best pitch I could every time, shut them down and give our team the best opportunity to win,” Williams said. “Team USA has some of the best college players in the nation. We were the underdogs, so to win was a pretty big deal, and to be a part of it was even bigger.”
This summer, Williams is rediscovering his comfort zone on the mound. After a challenging freshman season with the Washington State Cougars in Pullman, the former Papermaker is getting the opportunity to stretch his arm out by pitching for the Keene Swamp Bats, in New Hampshire.
“Pitching for this team has been the best experience for me,” Williams said. “I learn something new about the game every day. And every night, I go out there and play the game that I love.”
In five relief pitching apperances, Williams has a record of 2-1 with one save and a 3.24 ERA. He also has eight strikeouts.
“The whole college experience itself is such an eye-opener,” Williams said. “You’re no longer the standout, you’re the underdog. You have to work 10 times harder than you did before. It can be such a grind, but you have to remember your love for the game.
“The lessons I learned my freshman year I’m never going to forget,” he added. “Good or bad, I know they have helped me become the man I am now, and I know they will make me into a better baseball player and a person in the future.”
While adjusting to college life, Williams kept a close eye on what his buddies were doing on the baseball diamond back home. He had a good reason to brag.
The Camas Papermakers won 25 games in a row, before losing for the first time in the semifinals of the state tournament. That would be their only loss of the season. The Papermakers bounced back the next day and clinched third in the state with a record of 26-1.
“Those guys make me proud to say I come from Camas,” Williams said. “That’s where my roots are.”
For updates on Williams during July and August, go to www.swampbats.com.