Terrebonne's Williams wins honors on national television
Wed. August 22, 2012 at 9:43 a.m. | By Chris Singleton/Staff Writer
Terrebonne High senior baseball player Justin Williams poses with his two home-run derby trophies that he won at the Perfect Game All-American and Under Armour All-American games last week. (Photo by Chris Heller/Staff)
Justin Williams had an opportunity to showcase his big baseball swing on the national stage last week.
And with the eyes of the country watching, the Terrebonne High senior baseball standout took full advantage of it.
Williams participated in two prestigious nationally televised baseball games last week, and the 6-foot-3, 215-pound LSU baseball commitment brought home some major awards.
He won both home run derby contests at the Perfect Game All-American Classic at PETCO Park in San Diego on Aug. 12 and at the Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Aug. 18.
Williams, who plays shortstop at Terrebonne but moved to outfield at both national games, said it was an honor to participate in two baseball classics at Major League ballparks. The games featured some of the nation's top baseball players in the Class of 2013.
"It was great to have all the hard work that I've put in finally pay off," said Williams, who celebrated his 17th birthday on Monday. "They have all of the elite players in the country there, and they recognize all that hard work that we do. It's an experience that every baseball player dreams of having."
Williams started off his memorable week by winning the home-run derby at the 2012 Rawlings Home Run Challenge at the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego, which was televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.
After hitting nine home runs in the first round, Williams struggled in the final round by hitting no home runs with four outs left. After several of his teammates came out, removed his sunglasses, gave him a mini-massage and some words of encouragement, he blasted four homers to win the challenge.
He played for the East team at the Perfect Game All-American Classic, finishing with a single and a walk at the game. The East team lost to the West, 7-6.
Nearly a week later at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Williams duplicated his success by winning the home-run derby at the Under Armour All-American Classic, which was shown nationally on the MLB Network. He edged out fellow All-American standout Clint Frazier of Georgia in the final round to clinch the trophy.
Williams said he knew he could contend for the home run titles, but he was a little surprised to win both contests.
"I didn't think I was going to win any because you are playing against the best guys in the country," Williams said. "I was confident, but I would never imagined winning both of these trophies. It was unbelievable."
Williams finished 2-for-4 with a RBI for the National team at the Under Armour All-American game. The American team picked up a 7-6 victory over the National team.
Despite losing the two games, Williams said he enjoyed every moment of his time in San Diego and Chicago, adding that it gave him a glimpse of what a professional baseball player's life is like.
"When we lost in San Diego, we still had a big dog pile (with both teams) because it was an amazing experience," he said. "We weren't disappointed at all. We were playing on national TV at major ballparks at 17 and 16 years old. We lost, but we still put a smile on people's faces, so it was a great experience."
Terrebonne baseball coach Gus Brown said he was excited to watch Williams participate in two major baseball classics on live television.
"The last couple of weeks have been unbelievable," Brown said. "Words can't explain how proud I am. He represented Terrebonne and Houma well on the national stage. It was good exposure for him to play with some of the elite players in the country. He is a good role model for all young athletes in the area."
Williams said playing on the national stage gave him a golden opportunity to represent Houma.
"It felt great because no one knew where Houma is," he said. "Everyone kept asking me ‘Houma? Where is that?' I'm glad I had an opportunity to put Houma on the map, and hopefully, that can bring some attention to all the good ballplayers in our area."
Although he received major attention from pro scouts at the national games, Williams, who is ranked in the Top 5 of most national high school baseball recruiting lists for 2013, said he still plans to honor his verbal commitment to LSU, even though there is a good chance he could hear his name called in the early rounds of the Major League Baseball draft next year.
He said he will discuss his future plans with his family when that time comes, but as for now, he's planning to join the Tigers.
"I want to get an education," Williams said. "I'm not going to play baseball forever. Every baseball player needs something to fall back on. They have pro players who have millions of dollars, and they are set for life. I'm not there yet, so I have to start planning ahead."
After completing his busy summer travel baseball season, Williams said he is ready to shift his attention to his senior year at Terrebonne. He has decided not to play football for the Tigers and will play only baseball.
Williams said he will spend the next few months focusing on conditioning, school work and improving his baseball skills.
"I want to take a break, but I would rather just keep playing baseball," Williams said. "My dad (Michael Williams Sr.) always tells me, ‘the more you play, the better you get and the more things you learn.' There is a difference between learning the game and going out there and playing. I'm just going to prepare myself for college or pro ball and focus on getting better as a person and a baseball player."
And no matter how much attention he gets for his athletic achievements, Williams said he plans to stay humble all the way.
"You might think you are the man one day, but the next day, the game humbles you," Williams said. "That's kind of how I am. I know I've got all these awards, but I'm still Justin. There's nothing changed about me."