Team success is what players strive for, but individual honors never hurt.
UCF senior Tommy Williams was named to the Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list on Thursday. The award is given each year to a player who exhibits outstanding on-field ability and commendable sportsmanship. Only 60 players in the country were named to the list.
Williams currently leads UCF in hitting, with a .376 average. He also has the most doubles on the team with 12, and has four home runs and 31 RBI.
Williams is just the third player in the history of UCF baseball to be named to the watch list.
And Williams wasn't even the first to get the news.
"It's an honor, it's great," Williams said. "I didn't even know, some people were just telling me about it so I found out through them."
Williams is no stranger to accolades. Last season, when he led the conference in home runs, he was named to the All-American Athletic Conference first team as shortstop. In high school, Williams was named all-conference three times, and as a senior was named first-team all-city in West Palm Beach.
For him though, the awards are nice, but he doesn't write home about that kind of thing.
"I try not to pay attention too much to that kind of stuff," Williams said. "I try to just go out there and play and play hard. If I get some awards, then that's great."
One thing you could argue that makes this honor extra special for Williams is the fact that he's doing it as he learns a new position. As a sophomore, Williams started 48 games for UCF, every one of them as a shortstop. Last season, as a junior, Williams started 56 games as a shortstop.
This season, Williams has been splitting time between left field and third base on his way to a batting average more than 100 points higher than last year.
"It's great for him, Tommy's had a heck of a year for us," said UCF head coach Terry Rooney. "He's done a nice job. It shows you not just what he's done individually, but we've moved him around position wise. He played shortstop last year and was very team oriented when we decided to make the switch to third base or the outfield or whatever it takes."
Williams has struggled defensively at times this season, and he leads UCF with nine errors. But the Knights' strength lies in their offense, and Williams has been an integral part of that, starting every game but one so far this year.
UCF is currently in the middle of its toughest stretch of the season, where it's dropped two conference series in a row, to Cincinnati and UConn. But they're just over halfway through the season, and showed early in the year, with players such as Williams and Dylan Moore leading the charge offensively, that they can dominate very good teams as long as they continue to hit.
The next step in the award process is on May 7, when the watch list will be cut from 60 to 30. Then on May 27, the semifinalists will be announced with the award show being held June 23 in Los Angeles.
For Williams, it's pretty simple what he needs to do the rest of the way to be standing behind that podium.
"To win it, I would have to hit great and keep hitting and play some good defense," he said. "And just be better than everyone else."
Colin Bell is a senior staff writer for the Central Florida Future.