Trojans try to win one for Anthony

Published 2:08 am Saturday, May 31, 2008

By By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
SAUGET, Illinois — The Mount Olive College baseball team gathered in a hall on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Friday evening for one final meeting before today’s NCAA Division II College World Series Championship Game.
They went over the game plan. They talked about playing in front of a national televised audience for the first time. And contemplated what winning a national championship would mean to the program, to the college, to themselves.
As coach Carl Lancaster finished his final words of encouragement to his ball club, a shout came from the back corner of the room.
A loud roar filled the room as players clapped and rose to their feet.
The inspiration behind the Trojans’ run at a national championship has been Williamston alum Anthony Williams.
Back on May 18, Williams, a four-year starter at second base for Mount Olive, fractured his left elbow while diving for a blooper hit behind the first base bag in the Trojans’ 8-3 win over USC Aiken in the NCAA Regional Championships.
The injury ended Williams’ brilliant collegiate baseball career, in which he started more than 200 games and carried a lifetime batting average above .300.
The 2004 Williamston grad had started all 57 games at second this season before the injury, and was batting .321 with 46 runs scored and 27 RBIs. He was also a prefect 20-for-20 in stolen base attempts.
Nonetheless, Williams has turned his attention from being the team’s star second baseman to their No. 1 supporter. He’s been at every practice, every team meeting, every game since the injury, trying to do whatever he can to help Mount Olive win their first National Championship.
The Trojans have been the No. 1 ranked team in the land for most of the season as they compiled a 57-6 record.
The top-ranked Trojans advanced to the Division II College World Series Championship Game by defeating Central Missouri 5-3 on Thursday.
Mount Olive will take on No. 4-ranked Ouachita Baptist in today’s title tilt. The Tigers advanced to the winner-take-all championship game with a 2-1 win over No. 2 seed Sonoma State on Friday afternoon.
Ouachita Baptist (50-15) is a familiar opponent for Mount Olive. Less than a week ago, the Trojans rallied to beat the Tigers 6-5 thanks to Josh Harrison’s bases loaded single in the bottom of the ninth that capped a four-run inning for MOC.
Mount Olive is playing in a national championship game for the first time in school history in any sport.
The championship game is slated for today at 1 p.m., and will be televised nationally on CBS College Sports.