St. Joseph coach Jeff Babineau knew he had something when freshman Nicole Williams stepped into the circle for the first time in the Cadets’ second game of the season against Bunnell.
Williams proceeded to fire a one-hit shutout and hasn’t looked back since.
“We are bringing her along very slowly but she can throw,” Babineau said. “She is very, very good. We’re very excited to be honest with you.”
Williams has cruised in the early going, emerging as one of the best pitchers of the league on the team that remains the favorite to win the FCIAC. She continued her dominance Wednesday against Greenwich despite yielding a lead-off home run to Rebecca DeCarlo. Williams settled in to dominate the Cardinals, allowing two runs and two hits over six innings to claim the victory.
“We’re trying to figure out a new warm-up program for her,” Babineau said. “She wasn’t warm in that first inning and that’s what we’re trying to work on. When she gets settled in she’s tough. She has a good rise ball and a very good drop curve. She mixes her pitches well and she doesn’t walk a lot of batters.”
Five starts into her first season in the circle, Williams already appears battle-tested. She is 4-1 on the season with wins over Darien, Bunnell, New Canaan and now the FCIAC playoff-hopeful Cardinals. In 34 innings of work, five starts, Williams has 50 strikeouts while giving up just 16 hits and seven runs.
Having Jenn Vazquez, who is one of the best players in the FCIAC, behind the plate is a big plus for the young ace. The senior captain, who hit a pair of home runs Wednesday, serves as a calming influence for not just Williams, but the entire team.
“(Williams) is definitely stepping up,” Vazquez said. “Being a freshman and starting in the circle is definitely a big task but she’s definitely rising to the challenge and doing really well. I try to talk to her as much as possible behind the plate, keep her going, and keep her motivated throughout the innings.”She knows she’s out there for a reason.”