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Chuck Landon: Williamson backs up tough talk with action

May. 12, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Andi Williamson didn't gesture dramatically like a babe named Ruth.

But Marshall's star softball pitcher did indeed call her shot.

Mere moments after the Herd's final regular-season game one week ago, an 8-3 win over UTEP at Dot Hicks Field, Williamson emphatically declared that fourth-seeded Marshall would win the upcoming Conference USA Tournament.

"It's not over for us," said the senior right-hander. "We're going to win the conference tournament. We've got NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals. This team can go as far as it wants.

"And I'm sure we're going to go far this year."

Williamson talked the talk.

Then, she backed up her words during the C-USA Tournament at the Collins Family Softball Complex on the campus of the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Okla.

First, Williamson led Marshall to a come-from-behind 5-4 win over East Carolina on Thursday. Next, she shut out top-seeded UAB, 1-0, on Friday.

Then, finally, Williamson handcuffed Houston, 3-1, Saturday for the C-USA Tournament championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA Regionals.

After talking the talk, she walked the walk.

That's what great athletes do. And that's what Williamson is. Come to think of it, has any Marshall athlete had a better season during 2012-13 than Williamson?

I don't believe so.

Sure, Rakeem Cato had a brilliant year at quarterback for the Herd, passing for 4,201 yards and 37 touchdowns while winning Conference USA "Most Valuable Player" honors. But Marshall still suffered a losing 5-7 season and didn't advance to post-season.

And, yes, Marshall golfer Nathan Kerns has qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

But Williamson led her team to only the second C-USA tournament championship any Marshall team has won since joining the league in 2005. The first? It was volleyball in 2005.

Since then, it has been an eight-year drought for Marshall athletics.

Until Saturday, that is.

That's when Williamson played a huge role in stopping the dry spell. Beside allowing only four hits in the 3-1 title victory, Williamson pitched all 21 innings during Marshall's tournament run and didn't yield a single earned run.

Not one.

That's why Williamson was named as the 2013 C-USA Tournament Most Valuable Player.

And deservedly so.

In the process, she applied more than a little egg on the faces of C-USA's softball coaches that didn't vote her first-team all-league.

What a joke.

Williamson has led Marshall to a 35-20 record, has a pitching record of 32-16, has 344 strikeouts, has pitched 296 innings and, now, has led the Herd to the league tournament title and its first automatic NCAA Tournament berth ... and she wasn't good enough to make first-team All-CUSA?

Keep the plaque.

Williamson is more interested in Marshall's championship team trophy and trip to the NCAAs, anyway.

She's about winning, not personal plaudits.

That's because Williamson is a competitor, first and foremost. That's why she refused to come out of Marshall's game against the University of Kentucky even after a throw had knocked her unconscious in the pitching circle.

And that's why she called her shot a week ago.

Not even a babe named Ruth could have done better.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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