When Madison Williams played her final game before her beloved Manual Crimsons, she wanted them to know that she dedicated all her time to Manual softball and Manual itself. At the age of 8, Williams picked up a softball and a glove, making the decision to commit to an endeavor that would transform her life â€“ and Manualâ€™s program benefited from it. She played all four years at Manual and finished her senior season 21-9 as a Lady Crimson while truly embracing her alma mater and Head Coach Andrew Hundley.
â€œHe was kind of like a dad,â€ Williams says to describe her head coach. Coach Hundley, whose daughter is a junior in high school, established a fatherly connection with his players also. â€œIf we are talking about boys, he will tell us to stop talking about boys and that we donâ€™t need to worry about boys. He has helped with my hitting, and I started hitting a lot better this year. I use my legs more with hitting and pitching to get more power behind my hits and my pitch,â€ Williams adds.
Aside from her coach, this senior season prepared Madison as she gets ready to be a freshman at Jackson State in Jackson, Mississippi.
â€œThis year, we played a really tough schedule â€“ the toughest we have had all four years â€“ so I think it prepared me for all the tough games I am going to have in college. It mentally prepared me.â€
Madison will be preparing mentally to achieve one of her goals â€“ starting as a freshman. Jackson State lost six seniors this past season and has eight freshman coming in. Madisonâ€™s aim will be to be a stand-out freshman who owns the circle in their first season. And she understands that this preparation leads to her being mentally ready for the challenge.
â€œI will have to work all summer practicing, go to the gym and build my muscles to get stronger and just make sure I stay fit. I wonâ€™t be playing softball this summer because I aged out, so I have to do everything on my own now.â€
For a player who doesnâ€™t show much emotion, a drive and determination to be the best that she can be is the perfect recipe for Williams as she strives to reach her college aspirations. She recalls a game last season at Manual in the 25th District Championship versus Presentation that went to 15 innings where Manual pulled out the win 2-1. She says she refused to give up and was â€œdetermined to finish that game and win it.â€
Those intangibles will be what Williams falls back on as she opens the new chapter of her college journey. As she weighed her options between Bellarmine, Kentucky State and Northern Kentucky, Jackson State was the best option due in large part to the warm weather, she says. But more importantly, Williams, who considers herself a shy person, liked Jackson State because it was within her comfort zone.
â€œI visited a couple other schools and when the coach at Jackson State contacted me, originally I thought I wouldnâ€™t like it because it is far away from home. But when I went down to visit, I really liked the campus and it was really pretty. For it being a Division I school, it wasnâ€™t that big and I didnâ€™t want to go to a big school because I am a shy person and Iâ€™m not outgoing. So I probably wouldnâ€™t have fit in at a big school â€“ this was the perfect size for me.â€
As a premier pitcher in high school, Madison looks to take a well-rounded skill set with her to college. She admits that she has struggled with her change up but is elated in the fact that her coaches strengthened her in needed areas over the years. As a result, she has become a better hitter and now has a fastball that leaves batters perplexed in the box.
â€œI have natural movement on my fastballs, and that gets a lot of people because theyâ€™ll think it is another pitch but it is really my fastball inside and outside.â€
As Williams prepares for college play, I hope Jackson State is ready, as she expects to make a monumental impact on a compact campus in ways that perhaps words will not even be able to describe. VT