Iowa State's Sami Williams Looks To Solidify Legacy In 2021
Every once in a while, a player comes around who consistently strikes concern in the minds of the pitchers she faces. Shortstop Sami Williams has been that player for Iowa State for the past four years.
After the 2021 season—her final one with the Cyclones—the California native will go down as one of the program’s greatest players in its history. Already the program's all-time leader in home runs with 43, Williams enters 2021 leading all active NCAA players in career doubles with 64, ranking second in total bases with 464 and sitting in fourth in hits with 249. She also was named the 2019 Big 12 Student-Athlete of the Year and is a three-time Academic All-American.
For Williams, who was supposed to finish her college softball career in 2020, deciding to play again in 2021 was easy. In fact, it only took her a few seconds to make up her mind.
“We had a team meeting when our season got canceled and we were in the locker room and our coaches were delivering the news and after the meeting I was like, ‘So, should I start filing my FAFSA for next year?’” Williams said.
The decision to come to Iowa State was also an easy one, as Williams was not only impressed with the campus and the coaches, but also with the surrounding community of Ames, Iowa.
“One part that I really like about Ames (is that) in Iowa, there’s no professional sports teams, so the community is really involved in college athletics,” said Williams. “That’s something I could feel when I went to one of the football games, there’s so many people there. They love to ask questions about being a student-athlete and they’re really supportive of student-athletes.”
It didn’t take long for the softball community to start supporting Williams, as she burst onto the scene her freshman year to lead the team in batting average, runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI and slugging percentage. In each of the past three seasons, she has continued to lead the team in hits, home runs and slugging percentage.
According to Williams, doing well in the box comes down to her mental approach. It’s important for her to know who’s in charge.
“For me, it’s just been focusing on being confident and thinking when I step in the box, the pitcher’s afraid to throw to me, rather than me being afraid to face the pitcher.”
Williams will take that approach into a very competitive Big 12 schedule this season. In 2019 alone, two schools from the conference made the Women's College World Series: Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Texas Tech and Texas also made the tournament. Iowa State will look to build upon its 2019 season when it finished with a record of 37-25. The program has not been to the NCAA tournament since 1988.
“Over the years, you get to that point where you learn as a team and as a culture how to fight, how to compete, but you still have to get over that hump of finishing games and being able to compete the whole season,” Williams said. “I think that’s something that in the past we had trouble with, so I think just overall as a team we need to figure out how to get over that hump.”
Only time will tell, but if there's anyone who can help Iowa State figure it out and advance to the 2021 NCAA tournament, it's Williams.