Windermere Prep freshman Mia Williams capped her stellar travel ball season with a national championship win for her Tennessee Mojo-Fisher 14U team.
Before the last pitch of the PGF 14U Premier National Championship game, Mia Williams could feel the tears coming.
But the tears weren’t sad ones. It was a wave of emotion that was about to completely engulf her and her teammates. It was Sunday, Aug. 4, and the Tennessee Mojo-Fisher team was seconds away from walking off the field as national champions.
Williams, a Windermere resident, recalled the moment of victory with her teammates.
“(My teammates) all went into a huddle and before I could make the huddle — before she even pitched the last pitch — I started tearing up,” she said. “I didn’t even get into the huddle before I started bawling my eyes out.”
SUMMER OF SUCCESS
This summer has been one for the books for the 14-year-old shortstop, a freshman at Windermere Preparatory School. Williams has been playing softball since she was 8 years old. She began in the Windermere Little League organization before moving to travel ball.
Her passion for the sport has paid off. Williams committed to play for the University of Florida when she was in seventh grade, and she currently is the No. 1 prospect in the 2023 Extra Elite 100 by Extra Inning Softball. Her Mojo teammate and fellow Florida commit, Keagan Rothrock, is behind her at No. 2.
The Premier Girls Fastpitch National Championship weeklong tournament culminated Sunday, Aug. 4, in California. It wasn’t Williams’ first time on the national stage — she had played in the PGF National Championships tournament on her 12U Georgia Impact team — so she knew all eyes were on her and her teammates.
But for Williams and her team, the weeklong experience led up to those final moments resulting in sweet victory. The girls went undefeated throughout the week before facing the Arizona Storm-Appel in the championship.
“We were playing the Arizona Storm and that was actually one of the teams we hadn’t played the whole tournament,” Williams said. “We knew a little bit from other coaches telling ours about their pitcher and the hitters, but we’d never seen them play before — we didn’t know anything about them.”
However, the girls stepped up to the plate and took on the challenge of going into the game blind to their opponent.
“Some of the girls on my team were nervous going into the game, because they’d never been on a stage this big,” Williams said. “We were still pretty nervous, because we didn’t know the pitcher or how they were going to play. It was so exciting every time we’d get an out. Once we started getting into the groove of scoring I knew, ‘Oh, we got this.’ Every time an inning went by I knew we were one step closer.”
As it turned out, her team definitely had it. Williams had a stellar performance on offense, including a powerful home run over the 220-foot left-field wall.
“As soon as I hit it, I knew it was a home run,” Williams said. “It was the beginning of the inning, and I was the leadoff hitter. (But my team and I) were taking it step by step.”
Her home run gave the Mojo a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third, before the Storm fought its way onto the scoreboard in the top of the fourth. The Storm tied the game in the top of the fifth, but the Mojo once again stepped up and answered with a triple from Williams at the bottom of the inning.
That opened the gate to allow Williams to score, and with another run scored in the bottom of the sixth, the Mojo never looked back. They defeated the Storm with a final score of 4-2.
“It’s almost, I feel like, the next time we go to PGF we’re going to be unstoppable,” Williams said. “I feel like a lot of teams are threatened by us, almost.”
CAN’T STOP, WON’T STOP
Although the travel ball season is complete, Williams knows that the work is far from over — and it’s not going to stop anytime soon.
She trains for softball at Quinco Sports Academy in Winter Park to work on her game. For general fitness and workouts, she has a trainer and attends RHFITPRO.
In the lull before fall ball begins, Williams still is going full speed. The freshman plans to play basketball and soccer for Windermere Prep, and when spring rolls around, she will be balancing track and field, softball at the school and travel ball.
“Basketball and soccer are kind of spaced out and have different schedules, so I can balance that pretty easy, but track and school softball are at the same time,” she said. “Travel softball is my priority, and I do all my training for that before track or school softball. For my school, they do (softball) practice every day except the weekends, so I usually have to do one or two days of school ball practice and then I have to do my training for travel ball.”
And until the D9 Sun Classic Fall Showcase at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in late October, Williams also will be focusing on continuing to hone her skills and become better.
“I’m definitely going to be working on my hitting, and I could definitely be working on my pitch selections (at the cages),” she said. “That’s probably one of my biggest things I need to work on is swinging at strikes.”
Developing as a player is especially important when it comes to defending her No. 1 nationwide ranking and preparing to move up to 16U competition, but one of the best things about the whole experience has been getting to enjoy it with her teammates.
“If my teammates weren’t the ones I have now, I definitely wouldn’t have as much fun as I do,” she said. “They make it more fun, and you’re excited to travel and experience this together.”