Jun. 11—It took longer than planned for Alec Williams to complete his freshman season at the college level, but the end result was worth the wait for the Huntsville High alum.
After taking a year off from baseball, spending a season at a post graduate program, then having his first year of JUCO ball cut short due to COVID-19, Williams finally got to play out his freshman campaign at Tyler Junior College this spring. With the versatile outfielder and several other notable returners leading the way, the Apaches posted a 40-15 record on their way to winning the NJCAA Division III World Series.
"It meant everything," Williams said. "We had some really good returning guys from the COVID season that wanted to come back and be a part of something special. When they came back we decided that it was our time to shine, and we were on a mission to do just that — to win a national championship, get a ring and put ourselves on the map."
TJC's World Series title marked the program's sixth national championship and first since 2017.
The opportunity to chase postseason success was a new experience for Williams, who came from a program that did not reach the playoffs during his high school career. It was also one of the driving forces that convinced him that the Apaches were the right fit.
"That was my first time really being on a winning team with that kind of camaraderie," he said. "For that to happen was a dream of mine, to be on a winning team and have a winning culture surrounding me. It was a dream come true and it felt amazing."
With no scholarship offers coming out of high school, Williams took the 2017-18 season off from baseball and enrolled in classes at Lone Star College. He got back into the sport the following year, however, joining TCS Post Grad Academy in 2018.
At the post graduate program just north of Dallas, Williams was able to hone his skills and play what essentially amounted to a full college schedule, while maintaining all four years of his eligibility. He also gained the attention of college coaches — including TJC's Doug Wren, who sold him on the program's winning tradition.
"Coach Wren tells every recruit, 'If you want to win, come to Tyler Junior College,' so that really led me to choose them — just to be around the winning culture," Williams said.
Williams won't rule out a return to TJC, but acknowledges that he hopes to find the right fit at a four-year university by next season. And after posting a .343/.489./470 slash line with 29 RBIs, 46 runs scored, 10 doubles, two triples, a home run and 14 stolen bases as a freshman, he's undoubtedly turned some heads.
For now, however, he's simply enjoying the journey — from unoffered high school recruit to key contributor for the national champions.
"It proved a point to me a little bit," Williams said. "Ever since high school I'd felt kind of like a failure in a way, like I was letting down the town and letting down the baseball program by not playing in college like I planned to. But that's just because the schools weren't looking for somebody like me.
"I was just any kid — I wasn't that athletic at the time, I was just good at baseball. I feel like I was underrated, so to get this opportunity to go out and win a national championship was the best feeling ever."