Winning is No. 1 Priority for Camas baseball

Taylor Williams anchors a deep rotation at Camas

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant sports editor

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CAMAS — On at least one point, the pitchers of the Camas baseball team don’t see eye to eye.

“Taylor Williams and Kurt Yinger like to go back and fourth about whose the No. 1 guy on our staff,” Camas coach Joe Hallead said. “And our No. 3 guy doesn’t think he’s the No. 3 guy. Our No. 4 guy doesn’t think he’s the No. 4 guy.”

As long as whoever is on the mound pitches like the No. 1 guy that day, Hallead is happy to let the debate rage.

But make no mistake. There’s no animosity among the Papermakers.

“Kurt is my best friend,” said Williams, a four-year varsity player at Camas. “And it’s always a battle between Kurt and me. We work out together in the offseason, and every day is a competition. Kurt and I find a way to get the most out of each other.”

Getting the most of out of himself has helped set Williams apart from other pitchers in the area.

He’s a two-time all-league selection and last fall signed to play baseball at Washington State.

“It’s been a dream of mine since my freshman year to pitch in college,” Williams said. “And after meeting with the coaches at Washington State, it ended up feeling like the right place for me.”

Williams said he also considered offers from Washington, Oregon, and Oregon State, before settling on the Cougars.

“The coaches (at WSU) were very open with me,” Williams said. “They hand-wrote all their letters to me. And I felt a real connection with them. It just felt right.”

Williams’ signing was the second Division I signing by a Camas player in two years, following Zach Gallagher’s commitment to Hawaii.

Hallead said Yinger, a junior, and Austin Barr, a sophomore first baseman/catcher, are also drawing interest from college coaches from up and down the West Coast.

“I’ve got coaches calling me all the time,” Hallead said. “Kids like Taylor are putting Camas baseball on the map.”

For Williams, his road to success started his freshman year at Camas.

“Getting to start and pitch on varsity as a freshman was huge for me,” Williams said. “It gave me confidence to go against some of the tough teams in our league early on. Now, I’m more comfortable on the mound.”

Hallead said Williams has committed himself to improving into a college prospect.

“He’s not a big kid, but he gets the most out of his body,” Hallead said. “He’s kind of like that (San Francisco) Giants pitcher — (Tim) Lincecum. He doesn’t have the crazy motion that Lincecum has, but Taylor gets so much out of his legs that he can throw like a power pitcher even though he might look like a power guy.”

The other part of Williams’ success comes from watching other Camas players through the years.

“When I was a freshman, I can remember looking up to the older guys, seeing them earn all-league and getting to play in college,” Williams said. “And I wanted to do the same thing they did.

“And now that I’m a senior, I want to help the younger players follow the same path that I have. And that just helps make our entire team better.”

Williams played football and baseball his freshman year. But after breaking his collarbone the end of his freshman year, Williams decided to commit full time to baseball.

He’s spent the past two summers playing for a summer league team in Seattle. And he’s also participated in the Baseball Northwest training academy, as well as played in the Mariners Fall League.

“Taylor has really grown as a pitcher the last couple of years,” Hallead said. “When he was a freshman, he could pretty much just throw the ball past people. But playing in these summer league and traveling teams has taught Taylor that you can’t just throw it past everyone. So he’s had to develop other pitches, and that’s made him a more complete pitcher.”