Andrew Williams sounds just like a lovesick high school junior.
Except he's not breaking out the puppy-dog eyes for the prom queen or a favorite cheerleader.
"I just love baseball," Williams said. "I love playing the field. I love running the bases. There's nothing I love in this game like lining a ball somewhere. I love working in the batting cage. I can sit in a cage all day. My mind zones in on baseball. Everything else is blank. If I'm going through a tough time, this three hours or four hours out here is a relief. It's an escape."
The game seems to love him back. Just ask Aquinas coach Mike Laney.
Laney brought up his junior shortstop to a college coach who is recruiting him. Turns out that coach knew him. Turns out there is an assistant on that staff whose duties include scanning the prep statistics that are published in newspapers around Georgia.
That's modern scouting.
"That coach asked if the kid I had who was batting like .900 something was legit," Laney said. "I told him Andrew is as legit as it gets for a junior who's 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds. If he was 4 inches taller and 190 pounds doing what he does, every college around would be all over him."
Williams has the statistics any coach would want to draw a heart around. The natural right-handed hitter swings from the left side and had an on-base percentage of .808 coming into this week. His batting average was .625.
That is no misprint. Williams is known more for his average around the area than his lofty academic standing at Aquinas.
Laney said earlier this week he can't recall Williams going three at-bats without getting on base. He said Williams has struck out just two times this year. Williams has never had a game in which he did not get on base at least one time.
Everyone who has ever played the game comes up with a natural question. It's an easy one: How is he making such a difficult game look easy right now?
"You've got to get in the cage," Williams said. "Hit on the tee. Short toss. Hitting off the tee turned my career around. You've got to love to do it. You've got to love to work hard at the game to be good. ... You could definitely say my greatest talent in this game is to work hard. That and be able to put the bat on the ball."
The ability to train and see only the results - not the hours - is what sets him apart. Williams said he works on his game outside of practice about seven hours a week. Laney throws out phrases like "robot" and "baseball rat" to describe Williams.
That's a coach's compliment. He knows Williams knows the secret ways to sneak into the team's hitting cage at the school after hours.
"I see him doing something every day to get better," Aquinas assistant coach Joe Galvin said. "You could take a picture of Andrew's swing and use that as an illustration to teach kids how to swing a bat. He has built that swing through hard work."
Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or email@example.com