LONGVIEW — Ada Williams’ pitching career at Lower Columbia College started off as an inside joke.
Her coaches and teammates would jest about how Williams could pitch if they needed her to. Williams, a 2019 Napavine graduate, had pitched when she was younger, but it had been years by the time she joined the Red Devils in fall of 2019 as a corner infielder. Well, the time came.
Lower Columbia suffered multiple injuries and illnesses to its pitching staff in spring 2020, thrusting Williams into a relief role.
“I was like, ‘You know what? I’ve got to do this and step up for my team,’” Williams said. “I was excited for it.”
Williams re-taught herself how to pitch and worked her way onto the staff, throwing six innings in three appearances, going 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA while allowing three earned runs and six hits with one strikeout.
The Red Devils played in 10 total games before the season was shut down in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, going 6-4 overall and 1-1 in league play. She started eight games as a designated player, batting .375 with five home runs, four runs, 17 RBIs and four walks in 18 at-bats.
Her season was highlighted by a 3-for-3 batting performance with two runs and six RBIs, which included a two-run homer and a three-run double, in an 18-3 win over Treasure Valley on March 9. The team’s final games were a doubleheader on March 13, a 4-3 win and a 10-7 loss to Southwest Oregon.
The Red Devils practiced on Monday, Sept. 21 for the first time since that doubleheader in March as the 2020-21 school year and fall practice began. Williams was more than ready to get back on the diamond with her teammates ranging from Idaho to Hawaii.
“I was so excited,” Williams said. “It was like taking a deep breath of fresh air. I couldn’t go to sleep the night before.”
The team is split into two groups of seven that alternate practice days. Williams is in the Monday, Wednesday, Friday group. It starts with weights at 8 a.m., then moves to cage work, field work and then pitching to wrap it up. Her group worked out for four hours that day and will continue to do so on their designated days.
It was a welcome return for Williams, who is too old to play travel ball. So instead she spent the summer at the Toledo High School softball field with her dad, Chad Williams, who was her coach at Napavine and is now the Indians’ head coach. Ada helped out with his 16U travel team while getting some hitting and pitching reps on her own time and trying to stay in shape.
Williams earned her scholarship to Lower Columbia after ripping through Class 2B competition for Napavine. The 5-foot-5 corner infielder was a four-year starter for the Tigers, earning first- and second-team all-league selections as a senior and junior, as well as making The Chronicle’s All-Area Softball Team. She hit .593 in league play as a senior, tallying nine home runs, 32 hits, 33 runs and 37 RBIs. She helped the Tigers place second in state in back-to-back years as a sophomore and junior.
Now as a Red Devil, she plans to stick with pitching and continue with the staff as they prepare for their upcoming season in spring 2021. There is no fall ball season this year due to the pandemic, so the Red Devils will play their first game at noon on March 20 vs. South Division foe Chemeketa.
For now, Williams is just appreciating having practice again and getting her cleats dirty. The team plans to have inter-team scrimmages at some point this fall once restrictions are loosened. She just completed her first day of school on Monday and is taking only one class this fall, nutrition, as she was awarded a third year of eligibility due to last season being cut short. So for her second season in a row, she’ll be considered a freshman.
“I’m super excited for that. I’m a COVID freshman,” Williams joked.