After his first workout with the Philipsburg-Osceola baseball team, Logan Williamson shook hands with every coach.
It was during the winter at the YMCA, and Williamson was just a freshman — but the gesture left an impression on Mounties head coach Doug Sankey. He said it was the first time one of his players shook his hand and thanked him after a practice. The coaches figured it might be a one-time thing since he was a freshman.
But it turned out to be the first of many handshakes during Williamson’s career.
“He shook my hand after every practice for the last four years,” Sankey said.
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Williamson brings that kind of professionalism to everything he does on the baseball field, and it shows in his numbers. After hitting better than .400 in his first two years and better than .300 last year, the four-year starter led the team with a .347 batting average through 17 games this season while committing just two errors defensively.
The Mounties senior knows his teammates watch what he does, so he sets the standard and serves as an example in both speech and action. When the team met at the beginning of the season, Williamson made one request to his teammates: Come to practice every day and work hard.
That — from shaking hands to serving as a leader — is all part of his same professional and dedicated approach.
“He basically plays baseball almost nine months out of the year,” his father, J.R., said.
Williamson has spent “thousands upon thousands of hours” maintaining that professionalism while working out with his father at the high school field, at the YMCA batting cages and in his basement. After high school practices, he’ll go home, eat dinner and return to the field with his father for more batting practice. The additional hitting sessions occur nearly every day.
Extra work isn’t new to Williamson, either. Dating back his Little League days, all Williamson needed was half of a broomstick, a tennis racket and a rubber hammer to hone his approach and fundamentals.
With a net set up in the basement, Williamson hit tiny whiffle balls with the broomstick, which forced him to concentrate just to make contact. He hit forehands and backhands with the tennis racket, which made him focus on keeping a level swing to hit line drives. And he hit with the short rubber hammer, which highlighted the importance of keeping his hands inside to hit the ball. He dropped to one knee for the drills, taking soft toss or hitting off of a tee.
In 20-30 minutes, Williamson could take 100-150 swings — and he still uses the same workouts to stay sharp.
“We go back to ’em all the time,” Williamson said. “I’ve been using it a lot this season.”
The constant work paid off during his high school career as he provided a consistent offensive threat in the lineup and a steady glove at shortstop. Williamson said he spends more time on hitting, but he’s been smooth in the field. Sankey said he’s taken Williamson’s presence for granted at shortstop at times, but he’s also seen him make highlight-reel plays, often coming out of nowhere to grab pop-ups behind third base and turning his share of double plays.
“We always joke that hopefully they hit 21 ground balls to short,” Sankey said. “That would be the ideal game for us.”
With Williamson’s career winding down, Sankey knows he won’t be writing his name in the lineup for the first time in four years next season. The coach doesn’t want to think about that right now — but he said that when the season’s over, he plans to shake Williamson’s hand and thank him for everything he’s done.
“It’s going to be a sad day, that’s for sure,” Sankey said. “Whoever plays short for us next year, it’s going to be important for them to be themselves and not try to be the next Logan Williamson. That’s going to be a chore for us.”
District 6 Class 3A playoffs
Who: West Shamokin at Philipsburg-Osceola
When: 4 p.m. Friday
Where: P-O’s high school field at 502 Phillips Street
What’s at stake: The winner will face the Central-Ligonier Valley winner on Monday in the district semifinals