Yet she has led a life remarkably similar to the fictional baseball player — portrayed by Robert Redford in the movie "The Natural" — who rose from the cornfields of Iowa to star in the big leagues.
Williams, the standout shortstop for the Chicago Bandits pro softball team, grew up in the rolling hills outside of Roscoe, Mo. — population 124.
Like Hobbs, Williams learned the game from her father, Everett Williams, "who expected me to be great," she said. Hobbs' father stressed young Roy had a gift, and Everett Williams told Tammy the same thing, up to the day he died from lung and brain cancer when she was 13.
He was right. Williams, 26, would come from the middle of nowhere to become Northwestern University's all-time statistical leader in basically every key offensive category.
And she has helped the Bandits earn the top seed for this weekend's National Pro Fastpitch Championship in Rosemont, the biggest event in professional women's softball. The Bandits (36-12) will play either the USSSA Pride or Akron Racers in the best-of-three championship series beginning at 8:30 p.m. Friday and continuing into Saturday.
"He would be so excited about what I'm doing and how far I've come," Williams said of her father.
From humble beginnings
Some people come to the area to fish at the nearby Harry S. Truman Reservoir, but for the most part, there's not much to do. As Williams said, "half the time, your cellphone doesn't work."
At the Williams household, life revolved around softball.
"That was it, getting to see her play," said Williams' mother, Neva Mallicoat, a school bus driver who now lives on a 3,500-acre farm.
From the time Williams could walk, her father would start throwing her softballs. She was right-handed, but he taught her to hit lefty because it would make her a more dangerous player.
And he was a tough coach: She remembers him yelling at her as a young girl when she failed to properly backhand a ground ball.
"I'm crying because I'm a 7-year-old girl," Williams said. "But he pushed me."
Her prep coach, Cheryl Edwards, said Williams threw a perfect game her first time on the mound. In four seasons, Williams' teams lost once. Few would pitch to her because of her abilities.
"So talented, so gifted," Edwards said. "She was a phenom. I'd like to make a school athletics hall of fame, but she was so accomplished, that I don't want it to be just the 'Tammy Williams Show.'"
But Williams wasn't on any Division I coaches' radar. It was nearly impossible for her to receive exposure because Osceola's softball teams played in the spring and never in a state tournament, which was reserved for fall softball.
Osceola was foremost a volleyball school, and the school's top athletes, including Williams, played that sport in the autumn.
"We weren't big enough to have two sports in the fall," Edwards said.
Without a Division I option, Williams committed to play softball at Butler County Community College in Kansas and was weeks away from enrolling when she caught the biggest break of her life.
Williams was competing as a pitcher in early August 2005 for the Missouri Madness team in the Amateur Softball Association's National Tournament in Atlanta. There, she was spotted by Northwestern head coach Kate Drohan.
"She was extremely talented, really athletic," said Drohan, of Andersonville. "I thought to myself, this is someone I want to have at practice every day."
Drohan was so impressed, she offered Williams a scholarship to play shortstop for the Wildcats, even though Williams was a pitcher and did not get a hit in the two games Drohan watched.
"I thought they were crazy," Williams said. "I told them, 'You do know I'm not a shortstop?'
"It was just one of those things that they randomly found me in Georgia. We were both at the right place at the right time," Williams said.
Like Hobbs with the New York Knights, Williams became an instant highlight reel with the Wildcats in the big city. She was the 2006 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and guided NU to the Women's College World Series, where it finished second to Arizona.
She left the school as the Wildcats' all-time leader in batting average (.419), home runs (57) and hits (310). She also has the most runs scored in the team's history, which dates back to 1976, with 235. The next closest player has tallied 149.
"What makes her unique is she had a great balance of power, speed and run production," Drohan said. "Rarely do you have a player that's that complete."
She was also clutch. Williams' hits won games against elite foes so many times Drohan can recite them from memory: Alabama, 2006; Arizona State, 2007; DePaul, 2008.
"She was so darn good. I hated playing against her," said former Blue Demons dynamo Amber Patton, who now plays next to her as the Bandits' third baseman and is also Williams' roommate in Lakeview.
Williams, a second-round draft pick in 2009, has continued to excel at the pro level. She hit .362 in the regular season (anything near .300 is considered exceptional) with five home runs, 21 RBIs and a team-high 10 stolen bases.
Yet Williams doesn't know how much longer she'll play. Professional softball is not a lucrative line of work, and Williams is heading back to school, where she's seeking an MBA at DePaul while serving as the Blue Demons' assistant coach.
At 26, she's one of the Bandits' oldest players.
"I still love playing," she said. "Unfortunately, with women, sometimes that's not the most important thing, and it becomes more of a financial decision.
"If I get a good offer to [work or coach] somewhere, who knows where I'll be."
In love with Chicago
Regardless, Williams won't be returning to her hometown, at least on a full-time basis.
Edwards said many teenagers in Roscoe and Osceola don't have the drive "to get out," but that was never the case with Williams.
"Where I come from, people are satisfied with how they are and how they were raised and staying in that comfort zone, which is fine," Williams said. "Growing up, I was always the kid that was different. Even in high school, I was always different than my friends. I knew I wanted to leave and do more with my life."
Williams said she fell in love with the Chicago area the moment she stepped on Northwestern's Evanston campus. She adores Lakeview, where she walks to Cubs games and frequently dines at her favorite restaurant, La Gondola.
"It's a tribute to how independent she is as a woman," said Patton, herself from the small village of Forsyth, Ill. (population 3,007). "She's not afraid to take risks. She might have been a little scared, but she made it work."
That doesn't mean Williams has forgotten where she came from — or her father's teachings.
Since the first game of her college career, Williams honors her dad, an Army veteran, by blowing a kiss to the sky after the national anthem.
"I always knew what the American flag meant to him," she said. "Anytime I hear that song, he will be the first person I think about. It's part of my routine."
If her father were sitting in the ballpark at Rosemont this weekend, Williams said "He would still be yelling at me ... trying to make me a better athlete."