BY TRAVIS DAVID
HANNIBAL — Taylor Simms has had a bat in her hands since she was three years old. Ever since she started playing travel softball when she was eight years old, she had dreams of playing the sports she loves in college.
Last Thursday the Hannibal senior took the first step in making those dreams a reality.
Simms officially signed her National Letter of Intent to continue her academic and softball career at John Wood Community College.
Simms has had plenty of memorable moments on the diamond. From breaking up a no-hit bid from Mexico in the championship game of the district her freshman year to hitting a game-winning double in districts this season and a home run in her final game. But none of those matched the excitement she experienced when receiving an offer to continue her playing career for at least two more seasons.
“I was sweating because I was so excited,” Simms said of when the John Wood coaching staff officially offered her a scholarship. “I couldn’t wait to tell my family and friends about it. It was all just a really great moment when they asked me if I wanted to join their program.”
One person who was not surprised about the offer is her high school coach of the past three seasons, Andrew Pollard. Since coaching her in the eighth grade before being named the head coach of the Lady Pirates three years ago, Pollard knew Simms had what it takes to continue playing.
“They are getting someone who is not only a great player but a great person,” the Lady Pirates skipper said of Simms. “It’s been awesome to see her mature into the person and player she is today ever since being an assistant coach in middle school. John Wood is getting a great leader and someone who they won’t ever have to question about her work ethic.”
Simms has proven herself with intelligence on the game from two different positions — a corner infielder and an all-conference/district catcher.
Simms started her high school career as the Lady Pirates starting third baseman. Then her junior year she was asked to switch position to behind the plate — as she was in middle school.
“We knew that she was going to be the future behind the plate for us,” Pollard said of her early years on the high school team. “And she not only made the transition a smooth one, but she also played at the highest level when she got back there.”
Another element Simms brings to the game is her ability to call a game. For the past two seasons, she has called pitches for the Lady Pirates.
Pollard mentioned she is the total package.
“I am not sure what John Wood has planned for her, but I am confident she will go great wherever they play her,” the Pirates’ coach stated. “She is a great hitter, was our best base runner and behind the plate, she is a wall. She also has great hands and stole a lot of strikes for her pitcher.”
In a day where most catchers are removed from the basepaths for a courtesy runner, Simms never left the field.
“We would have been doing ourselves harm if we would have used a courtesy runner for her,” Pollard said.
As for making the transition from an all-conference and all-district player to playing collegiately, Simms said she knows she still has some work to do.
“I think I still need to be more consistent at the plate,” she admitted. “I feel like I made too many outs in high school and that is something I will have to work on is keeping the ball down and not getting under it too much.”
As for playing at John Wood, she mentioned the junior college across the river in Quincy, Ill. checks all of the boxes.
“It’s close to home and they are a smaller school,” Simms explained. “I did not want to go really far away and I wanted to stay in a smaller community. And they have a really good program.”
As for a college major, Simms is still undecided but is leaning towards “either education or nursing.”