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Seneca’s leadoff man is turning heads

Ryan Williams steps to the beat of a different drummer.

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,' " Williams 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.