CEDAR GROVE, NJ - The season is still young, but already junior Ray Williams has made an impact for the Cedar Grove Panthers baseball team.  Williams took the mound for Cedar Grove in its season opener and led the Panthers to a 4-1 victory over Waldwick.  He's delivering behind the plate as well, batting .571 with eight hits and three RBIs so far this season, earning him this week's Allstate Cedar Grove Athlete of the Week.  The Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Shelby Mobley, Allstate Insurance Agent, 471 Pompton Ave., Cedar Grove. 

"We started the season out strong at 2-0.  I think we have a good team this year and I think we can go far," Williams said.  "We've got good bats and experienced pitching -- and an infield and outfield with lots of experience."

In addition to experience, Williams feels chemistry and determination are two of the biggest strengths the team boasts this year, and really couldn't comment on any specific weaknesses.  

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"I'm very confident in my team.  Sometimes we may leave men on base and sometimes we strike out looking or walk too many batters, but that's going to happen -- that's part of the game of baseball," Williams explained.  "What's great about the team is that we don't give up.  We fight until the end -- we push each other and we motivate each other and we fight until its over."

Though the season is young, Williams' confidence is high and he's been impressed with his team's performance thus far.

"Beating Waldwic was great, especially for the power points in the beginning of the season, and Glen Ridge was a big win because they're not a team you can't sleep on and we won 10-4," he noted.  "Unfortunately we lost tonight 9-8 to West Essex, but they have good bats and sometimes that happens."

Looking ahead Williams has his eyes on the prize -- a state championship.

"My goal, and I think everyone on the team's goal, is to win a state championship and get a ring," he said.  "I want to do it for my seniors and we want to win the GNT and beat Seton Hall."

As for being selected Athlete of the Week, Williams is humble and focused on his team as a whole.  "It's a good experience to be Athlete of the Week, but I"m more worried about playing with my team, getting wins and helping each other," he stated.  

The Cedar Grove Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Shelby Mobley Allstate, 471 Pompton Avenue, Cedar Grove. 

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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