Penn State Harrisburg’s Bret Williams is no stranger to receiving awards.
The junior was recognized as the NCAA Division III Mid-Atlantic Position Player of the Year (POTY) by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) and Rawlings.
Williams became the first player in program history receive this selection, but can still potentially steal another award later this month.
The regional honor has given the Mount Carmel graduate a spot among seven other candidates for the National POTY award, which will be announced on June 26.
The list of awards — from first-team All-American honors to a CAC batting title — goes on and on for the outfielder after he posted ridiculous numbers throughout his junior season.
But for Williams, the recognition is more of an attribution to his continued improvement than anything else.
“It’s definitely nice because the recognition and stats show that I’m still getting results from the work I’ve put into a game that I have been playing since I was six-years-old,” Williams said.
“I think it’s also nice for all of the coaches I’ve had because it’s a credit to them for all of the hard work they put in, too.”
Williams led the nation in hits (88), runs (75) and total bases (75). The outfielder ranked second in the nation in home runs (18) and runs batted in (70) in 2019.
The numbers this season are the best of his career and he explained a few adjustments he has made to his game.
“I lowered my hand slot on the bat and have been trying to limit strikeouts,” Williams said. “Lowering my hands took away some of the ground balls I was getting and I was already getting a lot of loft on the ball since the power was always there, but (the adjustment) helped me and I got to watch the balls fly over the fence this year.”
His home runs came during some crucial points this season. One of his 18 long balls was a walk-off grand slam against Keystone College on April 9.
The victory was one of 33 for Penn State Harrisburg (33-15-1) as the team went to the CAC Championship Series for the second straight year and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA D-III Baseball Championship Tournament for the second time in school history.
Acknowledging that baseball is a team sport, Williams talked about his teammates and what made the group of players this season special.
“We had a lot of returners this season. We were really close and got together a lot outside of baseball,” he said. “We played relaxed and relied on one another to pick each other up when we made mistakes.”
At times, the team effort even went as far as making individual sacrifices for what’s best for the team.
Williams tried a new position in the outfield this season after discussing the possibility of a freshman player possibly making an impact in the infield this season.
“He made plays at third base and our coach talked to me after the game and was like, ‘hey, how do you feel about staying out there?’ and I was fine with it,” Williams explained.
While this season did not finish with a win, the Nittany Lions captured the program’s first NCAA tournament win against Alvernia — a game that Williams turned in a perfect day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with one home run.
The loss in regionals only set the bar higher for the club next season, and the junior said the team is setting out to capture a World Series title in 2020.
The baseball season for Williams, however, is not over.
He is a member of the Allentown Railers, a baseball team that plays in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League with their regular season stretching until the end of July.
The extra opportunity to play baseball over the summer will give more exposure to the PSU-Harrisburg rising senior, who hopes to achieve his individual goal next June — being selected on draft day.
“’I’m just working to improve, cutdown on strikeouts and working towards getting the call on draft day,” Williams said.