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Chuck Landon: Williamson guns for win 30 Thursday against ECU

May. 06, 2013 @ 11:40 PM

Now, I know how an opposing batter feels.

I blinked and Andi Williamson's collegiate career was by me.

Talk about a "riser."

It seems like just last week she was transferring from the University of Tennessee to join Marshall's softball program.

And, suddenly, karma was at peace.

Whether it's Andi or her father, Andy Paul, if your last name is "Williamson" you are just destined for stardom at Marshall.

It's preordained. It's fate. It's destiny.

But has it really been three years?

Already?

"When people say it goes by faster than you think, it really does," said Williamson, after pitching Marshall to an 8-3 win over UTEP on Sunday in the Herd's final regular-season game at "The Dot."

"It really goes by. I cannot believe this is it. It blows my mind.

"I feel like I just got here and, now, it's almost over," she said.

It has flown by quicker than one of her pitches, which I suppose qualifies as perfect irony.

After all, speed is Williamson's calling card.

After striking out eight Miners on Sunday, including the first batter of the game and last, Williamson's strikeout totals climbed to 332. And, yes, that's just in one season.

Not only does the senior right-hander lead Conference USA in strikeouts by a wide margin (65 more K's than the runner-up), Williamson actually ranks No. 2 in the country, according to NCAA statistics.

Hofstra's Olivia Galati has a nation-leading 352 strikeouts in 287 innings, while Williamson has 332 in 275 innings.

That's what I call fast company.

Then, there's her durability. Williamson has pitched 29 complete games this season and carries a 29-16 record. That's correct, she has 29 wins.

Twenty-nine!

In Conference USA, East Carolina, UCF, Memphis, Southern Miss and UTEP don't have that many victories as a team.

Yes, Williamson is that remarkable.

"She has a shot at 30 wins, " said veteran Marshall coach Shonda Stanton. "For one gal to win 30 games in a season ... you're talking teams. I don't care if you look at softball or baseball, look at how many teams have 30 wins on a season.

"In our conference there are only four of the nine that have 30-win seasons and she'll have a shot at getting 30 wins by herself.

"It's amazing."

Williamson will be gunning for her 30th victory when Marshall plays East Carolina at 8 p.m. Thursday in the Conference USA Tournament at the Collins Family Softball Complex at the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Okla.

That achievement certainly would be a highlight in Williamson's stellar senior season. But none of this may have happened, if not for her sophomore year. After transferring from Tennessee, Williamson was expected to dominate. Instead, she posted a 7-12 record.

"There is always an adjustment period," said Stanton. "And she never had experienced failure. So, mentally, she had to deal with that. It is great to see the strides she has made.

"You've got to give her all the credit in the world for being where she is today based on all she has tackled and persevered and injuries she has gone through and transferring. She is a heckuva competitor, a warrior.

"I know as coaches we are so relaxed giving her the game ball."

That will happen at least one more time on Thursday.

My, how time flies.

Just like Andi's fastball.

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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