Senior pitcher Brandon Simmons is now in the position he has waited for his whole life, and with expectations as high as ever, time will tell if he has what it takes to lead this Griffon team to a championship.
Baseball is not only his oldest passion, but it is one of his first memories. Ever since his grandfather started tossing him wiffleballs to hit when he was 2-years-old, it was all he wanted to do. Simmons knew at a very young age that he wanted to be a collegiate athlete, and it wasn’t until high school that he knew it would be a possibility.
Lucky for Missouri Western, one graduate may have been the deciding factor as to why Simmons chose to be a Griffon.
“On my visit it was a place that felt like home,” Simmons said. “The players were a joy to be around and made me feel welcome. My assistant coach in high school is an alumni from here and he set the whole thing up. I took my visit and instantly became a Griffon.”
The three time First Team All State pitcher fit in quickly at the college level. He led the team in wins with six in his first season pitching as a Griffon. Despite a slight sophomore slump, Simmons still managed to get six wins and become an All MIAA Honorable mention for his second year in a row.
It wasn’t until his Junior season that Western found out how dynamic of a pitcher they really had.
Simmons busted out with 12 wins, the most ever by a pitcher in a single season at Western. His 12-win season was not only enough to lead the MIAA, it was enough to lead the nation in wins.
Western’s coach Buzz Verduzco really sees the positive for the team as a whole with Simmons as the lead pitcher.
“He’s the ace of our staff,” Verduzco said. “Since he got here as a freshman four years ago we could tell at the very beginning he was going to be special, because he really controls the game for us.”
The ace pitcher is coming off his biggest season, and is with a team that has what it takes to push Western farther than they have ever been before.
Simmons has always had one pre-season goal, to be better than the previous year. Despite his record breaking Junior season, his drive to be the best and obtain his goal is still in his sights.
“This year will be no exception,” Simmons said. “I’ve been in this league for four years and have a pretty good idea on how teams will approach the game, and I do my best to disrupt that.”
Coach Verduzco also notices where Simmons pitching game carries over into his leadership qualities.
“The thing that he does for us too is really help out the young pitchers and teach them how to pitch,” Verduzco said.
One young pitcher in particular, Kyle Kelly who was a redshirt freshman last season, sees how Simmons makes players around him better.
“Brandon is a great leader,” Kelly said. “He is a lead by example player and our guys feed off him. He is very detailed in his routine and it shows in his success.”
Simmons success has made him the stand out pitcher he is today. He hopes to not only have individual success, but have team success in his last collegiate season.
“Our expectations are to finish top in our league and eventually win a world series,” Simmons said. “This team has the tools that are needed to win it all.”