HELENA — Allison Williams is off to a strong start on the mound and in the box for the Carroll College softball team.
That she’s off to a start at all is a relief for the entire team.
A year ago, the Saints lost a chunk all of their preseason games thanks to rainouts and other situations beyond their control.
For a team that already has a short preseason, each game is critical. Time spent competing on the diamond allows Carroll to work through at-bats and find the right lineups.
While some programs located in more mild climates can load up massive preseason schedules, the Saints cannot.
Traveling down to California and racking up seven games worth of experience early this season, while posting a 4-3 mark, leaves the Saints feeling confident.
Williams may be the poster child for that accomplishment.
The sophomore pitcher out of Glacier High threw a one-hitter and a four-hitter in Carroll wins and narrowly lost against a Top 25-ranked Vanguard team, 1-0.
She also slapped two home runs on Sunday as the Saints closed out their weekend with two victories. The Cascade Collegiate Conference named her its pitcher of the week on Monday.
“Ali works her tail off,” coach Aaron Jackson said. "She's a competitor and always striving to get better.”
Jackson said it’s Williams work ethic that’s allowed her to start strong this season. He noticed Williams fiery nature when he recruited the hurler during her high school days.
While the pitcher always had command of her rise ball and her fastball, it’s her movement on her changeup that’s caught Jackson’s eye.
“That’s where we’ve seen the greatest improvement and why we’ve seen the early-on success,” Jackson said.
While the Saints relish in their preseason schedule, they’ll get a bit of downtime this week while midterms at Carroll College take place.
Jackson said the crew anticipates three days of practice and then an off weekend, ahead of a schedule that is essentially nonstop in the spring.
Players will get a chance to rejuvenate ahead of a looming trip to North Dakota in little over a week.
“It’s a refocus weekend,” Jackson said.
While there’s snow on the ground, the Saints will take to the gym, simulating as much as they can. They’ll work on base running and whatever they can cram into the confines of the PE Center.
Jackson doesn’t anticipate anything drastically different from how the Saints prepared during winter training.
“Now that we’ve been in the dirt, we know where we stand,” Jackson said.
That’s 4-3 with valuable time on the field.