Platte County High School grad Cacy Williams slugged her way into the Wichita State record book this season
About one-third of the way through the just-completed season, Wichita State University softball coach Kristi Bredbenner made an interesting lineup change. She moved Shockers cleanup hitter Cacy Williams into the leadoff spot.
“I wanted somebody at leadoff that would set the tone,” Bredbenner said. “Cacy has the mentality for it and our team really fed off of her contribution at the top of the lineup. “ Williams, a 2011 Platte County High School graduate and former multi-sports standout, said she was taken aback by the move initially. “After hitting fourth for a while, I struggled a bit when I moved to leadoff,” she said. “But I really loved it. I loved getting up there and leading off a game with a double and getting our team fired up.” To say that the move worked out for both Williams and the Shockers is a big-time understatement. Williams, a 20-year-old, left-handed-hitting first baseman, hit .424 for the season, which was tops in the Missouri Valley Conference, the 33rd best batting average nationally in Division 1 and a Wichita State record. She also led the league in home runs, 16, a mark that also set a new Shockers record. Williams also set school records for RBI, with 47; slugging percentage, .812; on-base percentage, .531; total bases, 138; and runs scored, 57. For her efforts, Williams was named the Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Year and Player of the Year, marking the first time in MVC history that has happened. She also earned all-conference honors at first base, first team scholar athlete honors and was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I All-Midwest Regional Team. Williams’ season helped spark the Shockers to a 34-21 record and Wichita State’s first-ever regular-season MVC championship. The team broke virtually every offensive record in school history and just missed out on a berth in the NCAA Softball World Series when it lost to Bradley in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. Williams came to Wichita State this season after two years at Emporia State- where she was recruited by Bredbenner, who won 326 games in six seasons at Emporia before taking the Shockers job in 2012. Williams was redshirted her freshman season, then hit .376 with 10 homers and 50 RBI for the Hornets in 2013. During the offseason, Williams contacted Bredbenner about possibly transferring to Wichita State for her remaining three years of eligibility. “Cacy let us know she was interested in transferring and we were able to make it happen,” Bredbenner said. “Obviously, it worked out well for everyone and Cacy was a huge factor in our team’s success this season.” Williams said she could not have chosen a better school to continue her collegiate career. “I love the school, it was a great season and great experience,” she said. “We had a great team with a lot of great players and we got to travel and play in some really neat places.” The schedule included games at perennial national champion contender Oklahoma and at Florida State. “Mom and Dad really enjoyed watching us play at Florida State,” Williams said of her parents, Scotty and Maureen Williams of Platte City. Bredbenner said Williams made great strides at the plate this season in one crucial area – pitch selection. “When I first recruited Cacy, I could see she was a strong, powerful hitter,” she said. “But her weakness was her eye at the plate – she swung at bad pitches too often and got herself out sometimes. This year, she really matured as a hitter. She went up there with a plan, she got her pitch and then didn’t miss it.” Williams concurred. “A lot of my success came down to pitch selection – I didn’t swing at pitches out of the zone,” she said. “And I worked really hard. When I wasn’t studying, I was hitting. A lot of swings.” Williams said she loves playing for Bredbenner and also hitting coach Samantha Ricketts and thinks the 2015 Shockers have a chance to be special. Eight starters from this year’s team will return. “We had an awesome year and we have really great chemistry,” Williams said. “We are so young and we should only get better.” She added that she is trying to keep her personal expectations for next season in check. “Obviously, it’s going to be tough to duplicate this season next year,” she said. “I think a good goal will be staying patient and helping the team win any way I can.” Bredbenner said the MVC will know all about the Shockers slugger next season, but thinks Williams will be ready. “Cacy will take the way other teams are preparing for her as a challenge,” she said. “Knowing her and the way she approaches the game, I think she’ll be just fine.”