07/17/11 — Simms inks baseball NLI with Lenoir CC

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Simms inks baseball NLI with Lenoir CC

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on July 17, 2011 1:50 AM

Greg Simms quietly watched, listened and soaked it all in.

Called up to the varsity team late in his sophomore season at Eastern Wayne in 2009, Simms took the opportunity to learn all he could from leaders John Wooten, Walker Gourley and Josh Frederick during the Warriors' trip to the state finals.

As a junior, Simms' role increased as Eastern Wayne reached the fourth round of the playoffs. This past season, Simms put those valuable lessons he learned into practice as the Warriors' starting center fielder. He posted team highs in batting average (.429), hits (39), RBI (32), runs scored (31) and home runs (7).

"When I first got moved up I got to see a different level from JV to varsity," said Simms. "We had great leaders. The next year all the seniors wanted to win bad. There were several times we lost and they would call a practice. This year, we only had three seniors, but we tried do our best at everything we could."

Simms has signed a national letter-of-intent to continue his baseball career at Lenoir Community College. After initially believing his baseball career was over and planning on focusing on academics, the opportunity for Simms to join the Lancers' program presented itself.

Lenoir went 30-11 this past season and Simms' former Eastern Wayne teammate, Jose Ponce, was a freshman for the Lancers.

"I really wasn't going to play and I was going to concentrate on school," said Simms. "I knew I was going to miss the game. I love the game of baseball. From what I've heard (head coach Stony Wine) is a good coach. They have a good program and they've had a lot of people go to the next level."

Simms hit .349 as a junior in 2010 with no home runs and just nine RBI. He struggled to hit breaking balls, and ranked second on the team in strikeouts with 18. A dedication to the weight room and countless hours working with Warriors' head coach Jabo Fulghum began to pay off for Simms.

Simms and Fulghum often stayed after practice as Simms took swing after countless swing at breaking balls off a pitching machine. Eventually the spin and late movement that once mesmerized Simms became easier to pick up.

The result was Simms' improved pitch recognition, a more patient approach at the plate and an increase in offensive production.

"Greg learned how to lay off that breaking ball," said Fulghum. "He used to be way out in front and learned how to see the baseball. He learned to stay back and recognize a pitch longer. He became a little more patient at the plate and he started to make better decisions on swings."