Downing a trophy buck while in a tree stand requires precision and silence from Mike Williams and his Mathews No Cam HTR bow.
Terrorizing pitchers is a completely different animal that utilizes emotion and a loud, Easton aluminum bat to launch baseballs into orbit.
Both are extremely challenging, and there within lies the addictions. The spring and summer belong to the diamond, while the fall and winter belong to the woods.
There are no other places the Brunswick senior would rather be.
“(Baseball) is fun because it’s super hard,” Williams said Tuesday before practice. “If it was easy, it wouldn’t be that much fun.
“Hunting, now that’s pretty much all I really do out of baseball. Deer hunting for the most part is the hardest thing I’ve ever done because it takes so much time and dedication. I’ve already starting looking for deer on trail cams, so it takes all the way up to (hunting) season to figure out how everything is going.”
The difference to him?
“At the moment, baseball is 10 times better,” he quipped. “Deer, inside 20 yards is pretty much a done deal, but baseball you could get three fastballs down the middle and miss all three, or next time you might hit all three. You never know.”
Each passion was introduced to Williams by his father Dan, a player and coach in the Indians organization for 22 seasons. Mike Williams has vivid memories of those days with brother Jake, mainly hanging out during batting practice at Progressive Field, developing a bond with outfielder Trevor Crowe and being in awe of how “unbelievable everyone was” as a player.
Dan Williams remains deeply involved in the game as co-owner of Premier Baseball Academy but doesn’t micromanage Mike’s swing, which is naturally sound and full of power from the right-hand side.
“He knows a lot and he’s my dad, so of course you think he’s going to be wrong, but at the end of the day you’re like, ‘You know, he’s probably right,”’ a smiling Mike Williams said. “Being on time hitting, that’s really been the biggest thing. He doesn’t really care what our swings look like. As long as we’re on time, he’s all right with it.”
Brunswick (17-12) won its fifth district championship last week with a 5-0 win over Firestone and will play fellow Greater Cleveland Conference member Mentor (20-5) on Thursday in the Louisville Division I Regional semifinals. The Blue Devils have steadily improved in Williams’ four seasons, winning 10, 13, 17 and 17 games, but have never worried about the heart of the order.
Like his father, Williams has played catcher, first base and third base, and he also manned second as a freshman. He can’t catch anymore due to nagging effects from falling 22 feet out of a tree stand, but has been reliable while rotating at the corner infield positions with Michael McFadden.
Williams is batting .333 with seven doubles, four home runs, 20 RBIs and 22 runs. Those numbers are down from last season’s .438, 15 doubles, three homers, 35 RBIs and 31 runs, but opposing pitchers have justifiably given him little to hit, as evidenced by his Medina County-leading 24 walks.
The proof of Williams’ talent lies in career statistics, as he owns the county record for at-bats (330) and trails only Black River legend Brian Ensign (43, 2000-03) with 37 doubles. Williams also is second in school history to Medina County Sports Hall of Famer Darian Miskewycz with 121 hits, 81 RBIs and 87 runs, while his 54 walks are behind only Roger Keller (60, 1988-91).
Williams specializes in bat control, as last week in the Barberton District championship he deftly sprayed three balls into the right-center gap to take advantage of the wind and powered a ball deep into left-center that was caught on a dead sprint.
His passion for the game can’t be understated, either, as Williams keeps things loose.
“I’ve never seen a kid really have as much fun with the game of baseball as he does,” Brunswick coach Grant Relic said. “He’s like a little kid out there. He gets the work in that he needs to get in, but he wants to have fun.
“(He has) pure talent. You can’t teach the swing that he has. He learned it from an early age with his father Dan being with the Indians for a long time. Being around the big-league club all the time obviously helped him, but his free and easy spirit he brings to the field, he is going to try and hurt the ball the best he can.”
Williams received D-I college looks yet elected to attend Cuyahoga Community College to again play with his brother Jake. A full scholarship could follow, but Williams is focused on the task at hand.
College baseball and hunting can wait a few more weeks. The Blue Devils are hot and having a blast, so why stop here?
“Unbelievable, unbelievable,” Williams said. “We have a really young team, so hopefully they can bring it back up the next couple years and make this an annual thing.”