Former Three Rivers College pitcher Austin Williams took the mound in a game broadcast on ESPN3 on Saturday. Williams pitched 1 2/3 innings for Southeast Missouri State in its season-ending loss to Southern Mississippi in the Oxford Regional round of the NCAA tournament. “When we move guys on, it’s a big deal,” Three Rivers coach Tyler Smith. “I’m really proud of what Austin has done.” A junior, he threw a season high 54 pitches in relief, but ultimately gave up six runs as Southern Mississippi won 21-0. Before that, the Redhawks had won 11 straight games when Williams pitched.
He finished the season with 39 2/3 innings and a 5.90 ERA. Another former Raider at SEMO, Noah Stone, did not play this spring due to an injury. Williams steadily lowered his ERA throughout the season after a rocky start. He allowed eight runs in his first three games and had a 13.50 ERA at the end of February. He cut nearly four runs off his average after pitching two shutout innings against Illinois State, and then he shaved another two runs over the next two weeks. At the beginning of May, he didn’t give up a run in 3 2/3 innings against Belmont, allowing four hits with three strikeouts along the way, which got him down to a 5.67 ERA. It was the second of seven straight appearances where Williams lowered his ERA.
During six weeks heading into the Southern Mississippi game, he didn’t allow more than one run in any appearance, pitching 17 total innings in the process. His average got as low as 4.74 before Southern Mississippi ended his season. In one season at Three Rivers, Williams was 4-4 with three complete games and a 5.09 ERA. He threw a season-high 13 strikeouts against Metropolitan and five days later threw 12 strikeouts over nine innings against St. Louis. “We used him a lot,” Smith said. “He was a workhorse. He’d always take the ball. Just a guy who competed.” Williams and Stone are two of six former Raiders at four-year schools. Matt Robbins hit .326 with a .900 OPS as a catcher for Arkansas Tech this season.
Smith remembers him arriving at Three Rivers after two ACL surgeries in high school. Also at Arkansas Tech, Shelby Quiggins pitched 16 innings with a 4.50 ERA. River Hunt started 11 games on the mound for Arkansas-Monticello and had a 3.52 ERA with a 9-0 record and 64 strikeouts. The junior led the team in wins and was the only pitcher from the Great American Conference to be named to the All Central Region team. “Hopefully, he’s a guy who has a chance to be a draft pick next year,” Smith said of Hunt. At Central Missouri, Tyler Kuhlmann pitched 22 innings across 18 games and finished with a 2.45 ERA and 28 strikeouts.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic