Frenchtown senior Jessie Williams has put together quite a career - in three sports

For a while last Friday night, Jessie Williams' contagious smile was nowhere to be found.

She'd just allowed 10 hits as Frenchtown lost a 4-1 decision in girls' softball to the Polson Pirates. It was just her third loss in more than two years as a varsity pitcher.

"It was a pretty big letdown," Williams said Saturday, hours before heading to the prom. "I wasn't too happy about that, but I think losing is good sometimes. It makes you work harder for what you want."

Few prep athletes know more about hard work than the 5-foot-4 senior. She's been a three-sport star, starting since her freshmen season on the basketball and softball team. The last two seasons, she also started on the volleyball team.

She's played arguably the most important positions in all three sports - point guard, setter and pitcher.

"She's a leader," said Frenchtown softball coach Mark McMurray. "The kids look to her to set the tone. She's taken on that responsibility over the years. She's the girl that wants to take the last shot in the final seconds of a ballgame."

"I guess I feel like a team leader," said Williams, who plays third base when she's not pitching. "I feel a little pressure to do good."

With Williams' help, the Broncs have been pretty tough to beat in volleyball, softball and basketball the last four seasons.

Frenchtown's softball teams have won state Class B-C titles the past three years and compiled a 72-8 record since the beginning of her freshman season. All signs point to another state title in May.

Williams hit .390 as a freshman, .411 as a sophomore and .356 as a junior. She won 14 games as a pitcher as a sophomore and 11 last season. She's been named to the all-state squad three consecutive years.

The Broncs' basketball team is 79-27 with Williams in the starting lineup. Frenchtown was second at state in 1998 and third last fall. Williams was named first-team all-state and averaged 8.9 points a game.

The volleyball team advanced to state last month and finished 23-6.

"This year we're gonna go to state in all three sports," Williams said. "It's long seasons for all of them, but this is what I love to do. I love to play sports. I don't remember when I wasn't doing that and I don't know what I'd do if I didn't."

She played baseball with the boys until the seventh grade when a Frenchtown assistant coach gave her a softball as a birthday present. Consider it a subtle hint.

"He told her it was time to change," McMurray said. "She excelled right away. There was no doubt in my mind she'd play as a freshman."

She'll probably make an impact - in basketball and softball - at NAIA Minot State next season. She'll play both sports for the school located in northcentral North Dakota.

Her cousin, Christina Brown, also will play basketball for Minot State. Brown played basketball and volleyball for the Broncs.

"I think college will be a lot different," Williams said. "The classes will be tougher. I'm just looking forward to seeing what happens."

She has a 3.8 grade point average and plans to major in physical education.

"She's got a great work ethic," McMurray said. "She's always wanting to do more to get better."

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