WATCH: Jam Williams Poised For Breakout Season In 2017
When you ask the Ragin' Cajuns Baseball team who made the biggest jump from last year, almost all of the players say the same name: Jam Williams.
Williams is an impressive athlete in the outfield, and he worked all offseason to improve his bat at the plate and his glove in the field. At 6'3" and almost 200 lbs, he has a lot of potential to grow into, and he's trying to improve his mental approach to the game.
How did Williams make such marked improvement? He described his goal for the offseason simply.
"Slowing the game down, playing like an older guy, playing like a vetaran. Defensively, just sticking to what I know, not rushing myself, not speeding the game up," Williams explained. "If a guy hits a double, give him a double. If a guy hits a triple, give him a triple, not spinning the game out of control and staying calm."
He played in 22 games last season, primarily as a pinch runner, and he only picked up one hit in 2016. He's looking to be a more regular face in the lineup this year, and his bat is catching up to his speed. If his skills in the field are up to par, he could see a lot more action in the outfield this year.
Williams sharpened his skills during the offseason with the Acadiana Cane Cutters, where he was one of the fan favorites.
Some players travel all over the country when the college season ends, but Williams got a chance to ball out in front of some familiar fans.
"I loved every bit of playing with the Cane Cutters," Williams said with his huge, signature smile. "It was great to stay here in Lafayette and have the guys from Section A and all over come watch me play. It was a great experience."
Speaking of playing back home, Williams can't wait for the home opener in Russo Park.
For months, Louisiana practiced in the midst of heavy construction. The team watched the old grandstand get demolished, and they witnessed the skeleton of Russo Park get erected piece by piece while they practiced.
Williams can barely contain his excitement when he thinks about finally getting to play in front of Cajun Nation, in their brand new home park.
"Words can't really be put into play. They knocked it down and when we started it was literally a pit of sand, now it's starting to come up, it gives me goosebumps," Williams said. "I'm really just ready to see the finished product and be under the lights."
There's a lot to like about the Ragin' Cajuns this year. Tony Robichaux has a lot of options with his lineup, and the depth of the pitching staff is staggering. Williams could be poised for a breakout season, and he wants to be a key part of this year's plan to make noise in the postseason.
The entire team is setting high expectations for themselves for the 2017 season. With Coach Robe in charge, the team thinks they should compete for championships every year.
"The goals for this season are the same. We're going to come out and try to dominate our opponent. We're going to play every game fast, play every game mentally strong, focus on what we can control," Williams said without hesitation. "Win conference, win our regional and get a chance to go to Omaha. Let's have some fun."
Let the fun begin. Opening day is almost here, and Williams is ready for the first pitch.