P2P NCS Girls Softball Honors
Amador Valley's Danielle Williams is the NCS Junior of the Year. Photo Courtesy of Chris Sigua/AV Softball

NCS Junior of the Year
DANIELLE WILLIAMS, AMADOR VALLEY

Since the time she arrived on the high school scene for Amador Valley, junior Danielle Williams has had a target on her back. Each year she continues to embrace that role and improve as one of the top impact players in Northern California.

This year, Williams was the picture of dominance in the circle for the Dons, leading Amador Valley to 23 wins and an EBAL-best 12-1 mark during regular season league play. That included two shutout wins over eventual NCS champion Foothill.

Consistent with the shutout wins over Foothill, Williams performed at her best against the best competition. That included a no-hitter against eventual NCS Division II champion Concord and back-to-back no-hitters against Dublin and Cienega-AZ, the latter coming in the opening game of the Michelle Carew Classic in Anaheim. Cienega, meanwhile, would go on to win the Arizona 5A state championship.

In that same tournament, facing some of the top competition in the country, Williams also shined in wins over Mater Dei Catholic and Canyon. Mater Dei Catholic ended up going unbeaten in the Metro Mesa and was a semifinalist in the San Diego Section Open Division. Two of Williams’ losses during the season came in the Dons’ final tournament games, a 1-0 loss to eventual Southern Section Division I semifinalist Orange Lutheran and a loss to eventual SS Division I champion Los Alamitos, considered by many to be the top team in the state and the nation.

“The Southern California trip really taught us a lot this year, especially the games against Orange Lutheran and Los Alamitos,” Williams said. “We really became close as a team this year as well, and that led to us having both a fun year and developing confidence in one another.”

Following the two losses in Southern California, Williams went on a tear back at home in league play, blanking Amador Valley’s next four opponents, allowing a total of six hits in the four games. Following that, the Dons avenged their only league loss of the regular season, taking down nemesis Livermore. But Williams’ best regular season performance was yet to come.

After blanking California on one hit, with 15 strikeouts, Williams tossed three hitless innings in a combined shutout over Dublin. Then came the second game of the regular season against Foothill. This time, Williams was perfect, striking out 13 and allowing just a single base runner, on a dropped third strike, for the 2-0 victory. She continued her dominant run with a 16-strikeout, one-hit performance over Carondelet in the EBAL semifinals.

For the year, Williams put up eye-popping numbers. She tossed the four no-hitters, while posting a 0.47 ERA, with 316 strikeouts in 164 innings pitched. She threw 16 complete game shutouts, and nine one-hitters. To summarize, she was nine at-bats away from 13 no-hit performances in one season. The Northwestern commit also remained solid at the plate, hitting .360 with three home runs, three triples, and 24 RBI.

“I really worked on developing my mental game this year, trusting more pitches and having confidence in my teammates behind me,” said Williams, who has thrown seven no-hitters and struck out 561 batters over the last two years. “I gained a lot more confidence in my change-up, and was able to throw that in any situation.”

Next season, Williams lists keeping her pitch count down and maintaining confidence regardless of situation as early goals, but for now we are happy to recognize her as our 2017 Prep2Prep Junior of the Year.

Other players considered for this award include Freedom’s Vanessa Strong and Bishop O’Dowd’s Frankie Hammoude.

NOTE: We would like to thank our media partners, coaches, parents, players and fans for contributing photos for our all-section features. We salute all of the players that have made this a wonderful season of NCS softball.