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Living the dream

Canyon junior is fulfilling her goals and leading team

Posted: May 17, 2009 9:05 p.m.
Updated: May 18, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Canyon catcher Brittany Williams leads the Cowboys with a .485 batting average, 11 home runs, 29 RBIs, 26 runs scored and 22 extra base hits. Only a junior, she has already committed to play softball for the University of Oklahoma.

A lot of children grow up dreaming of playing the sport they love for their ideal school. Not many of them make it a reality before their junior season of high school is over.

But then again, most high school softball players don't nearly hit .500 for an entire season like Canyon catcher Brittany Williams.

The junior backstop led Canyon to its most successful year of Foothill League softball since 1994, pushing the Cowboys to a 5-5 Foothill League mark and a possible CIF at-large bid.

"I have coached Brittany since she was 8," says Mike Rego, who is in his second full year as Canyon's head coach. "She works incredibly hard, and I think she sets an example for this team that has rubbed off on a lot of the girls."

Williams' ability behind the plate and in the batters box also impressed the University of Oklahoma coaching staff, which offered Williams the chance to play in Norman, Okla., when she is done with her time at Canyon.

"It has been my ultimate goal for as long as I can remember," Williams says. "It's even better because one of my best friends who lives in Kansas is going to play there too so that makes it so awesome and exciting."

The Sooners posted a 40-14 mark last year and finished ranked No. 15 in Division I, one year after the team went 55-7, so Williams knows that she will be walking into a winning situation in college, which wasn't the case when she chose to come to Canyon as opposed to applying to attend another local program with a more renowned program.

"It's a major issue that there are loopholes that allow talented kids to attend different schools because it's not fair to every program," Rego says. "We were fortunate that Brittany's dad is a very logical guy, and he wanted Brittany to go to the school closest to their home."

The decision proved to be a major boon for Canyon, and when Rego took over the head coaching duties, the recipe for the steady rise of Canyon was beginning to take shape.

The Cowboys improved on a 2-8 Foothill League mark in 2006 by doubling their win total during Williams first year on the team.

Then the Cowboys equaled the mark next year.

"Brittany is amazing," says Canyon senior second baseman Ciana Rego. "I started playing with her about ten years ago, so I know that she has always been good and that she is extremely gifted. She's an awesome person too, and I don't think I have ever seen any teammate or anyone on another team dislike her."

Williams' positive personality has proven to be infectious as a team that relies on players from all four classes has gelled into a cohesive unit that routinely spends extra time practicing.

Several of her teammates and Williams hit the batting cage after games and practice, which Rego says has been a huge reason for the Cowboys' success.

There's no debating the impact the added swings have had on Williams numbers. On top of batting .485 this season, she has also drilled 11 home runs.

"I think what you see when she's at the plate is that she has an ability to hit the ball to all fields," Rego says. "She has great opposite-field power, and she makes the most of her given talent by how hard she works."

Williams' talent on the softball field extends well past the batters box. After spending time playing the infield as a freshman, Rego decided to move her to catcher, where her strong arm and intellect for the sport have helped her mold the Cowboys' pitching staff.

"It has been so great to work with a catcher like Brittany," says freshman pitcher Hayley Bottino. "Coming into high school and pitching on varsity can be tough, but Brittany has been such a big help. She never gets frustrated with her teammates, and she is always with me."

Williams' arm is also a major reason she is such an asset behind the dish, but Rego sees her talents translating to any number of positions depending on what Canyon or Oklahoma might need.

"She is an excellent catcher," Rego says. "Still, I know she has the coordination to play at first, third, or either of the corner outfield spots. She is a really rare combination in that she is a really naturally talented player that works very hard and is a great part of our team chemistry."


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