Phil Anastasia: Seneca's Williams looks to future
Ryan Williams steps to the beat of a different drummer. Williams is one of the best baseball players in South Jersey. He's a natural. He just has his own ideas about the game and his future.
Ryan Williams steps to the beat of a different drummer.
Williams is one of the best baseball players in South Jersey. He's a natural. He just has his own ideas about the game and his future.
Williams is Seneca's leadoff man. He has a .404 batting average and is tops on the team in home runs with four. He works defensive wonders with the glove.
"He makes plays I can't even describe," Seneca coach Sean Cassel said.
Cassel says the scouts who have been bird-dogging the Golden Eagles this spring because of senior pitcher Kevin Comer - a possible first-round pick in the June 7 major-league baseball draft - always are asking about Williams.
The coach tells them.
Williams is going to Rowan.
To play club ice hockey.
"People are always telling me, 'Uh, you might want to rethink that,' " the shortstop said. "But I'm sticking with my ideas."
Actually, Williams isn't going to Rowan strictly to play club ice hockey. He likes the school. He wants to study to become a teacher. And he might not even try out for the club ice hockey team until his sophomore year.
But he's definitely done with baseball. His career will be over when Seneca plays its final game - which could be the end of this month, or as late as the Group 3 state title game June 11.
"It's one of those things - it's just kind of losing its fun for me," Williams said. "I've been playing for a long time. I'm too used to it."
These games end for everybody. Most athletes allow others to impose the expiration date - the last game of a high school or college career - or play until their bodies force them to quit.
Williams is taking another approach. He's stopping on his terms, in his time.
"I have urged him to reconsider," said Cassel, whose team opens tournament play Monday as the most dangerous No. 8 seed team around, at least as long as Comer is on the mound. "But you know what? He's an adult. He's a deep thinker. He's sort of like a Renaissance Man.
"He doesn't define himself by baseball. I admire that. He's not going to do what society says he should do, and that's admirable."
The telling thing is that Williams has not let his future plans impact his play for Seneca. He's been an all-South Jersey-caliber player, even as the clock has ticked down on his baseball career.
"He's never lost focus," Cassel said.
Cassel thinks Williams could play Division I baseball. He surely could play at Rowan.
Williams says he is planning to play.
Phil Anastasia: Sectional Baseball Tournaments
S.J. Group 4: Defending champion Washington Township is the top seed, thanks to great work from third baseman Mark Jankowski and pitchers Trevor Connors and Tyler Bright. Millville is No. 2. Eastern, Cherokee, Lenape and Shawnee are dangerous. The pick: Eastern.
S.J. Group 3: Highland is the top seed. Led by Pierce Phillips and Vince Ciccarelli, the Tartans have fashioned a terrific season, even after losing Boston College recruit Tyler Hinchliffe to injury. No. 2 Moorestown might be a year away. Watch out for No. 8 Seneca. With a healthy Kevin Comer, who can pitch most of the games, the Golden Eagles will be favored over every team. The pick: Highland.
S.J. Group 2: Haddon Heights is the top seed, thanks to Steve Sciortino and Dean Wilson. Delran is No. 2. Buena is dangerous and so are Cinnaminson and West Deptford. The pick: Haddon Heights.
S.J. Group 1: Defending champion Pitman is the No. 1 seed. Sophomore Matt Ennis and senior Dylan Colgate have led the Panthers. Led by shortstop Brian Flacco, Audubon is No. 2. Watch out for No. 3 Haddon Township. The pick: Pitman.
Non-Public A: Holy Spirit is the top seed. Pitcher Matt Rakus and infielder Anthony Coccuzza lead the way for No. 3 St. Augustine. Watch out for No. 2 Red Bank Catholic, No. 5 Paul VI and No. 8 Bishop Eustace. The pick: St. Augustine.
Non-Public B: Cody Brown and Steve Wilgus have sparked No. 1 Gloucester Catholic. Mark Zagunis and Jeff Singer lead No. 3 Holy Cross. No. 2 St. Rose is dangerous. The pick: Gloucester Catholic.
C.J. 4: Rancocas Valley is No. 4 and could threaten behind senior Devon Hedgepath.
C.J. 1: Florence is the top seed behind Jake DeWitt.
- Phil Anastasia