(Conyers, GA) - Just a year-in-a-half removed from Tommy John surgery and Salem pitcher Chris Simonds has found a home for himself in college. Simonds signed his letter of intent to play college baseball at LaGrange on Tuesday.
"I just think it's a great fit for me. It's a great school. I like the campus," Chris Simonds said.
Simonds played at Heritage for two years before transferring to Salem. However, because of his injury, Chris didn't get to play with the Seminoles until this year.
Mike Simonds, Chris' father, recalls the summer of 2013, when Chris Simonds pitched a one-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles scout team. He was 16 at the time and they were 18. Chris pitched in the Wood Bat World Series just a week later and threw a complete game.
Mike says that Chris told told him the following day that his arm felt weird. Mike Simonds told his son to shut it down and they went to see a doctor. The process started in July 2013 and Chris eventually had Tommy John surgery that September.
"We didn't really know what to expect with the surgery," Mike Simonds said. "To start when the doctor came in and said, ‘Your ligament's torn.' That was a punch in the gut for all of us. It was a long road. It was a year-in-a-half probably before we were comfortable. I'm even still holding my breath every pitch he throws. It's been a wild ride."
"He's worked extremely hard to get back from that. It's just been a herculean effort from him to get where he is now," Mike Simonds said.
Mike Simonds and his wife, Christy, were with Chris the whole way during his rehab.
"I had to work hard," Chris Simonds said. "Not being able to play baseball for a year, you want to go crazy, but you can't because you can't play. You just gotta be patient."
Chris would throw with his father as he worked his way back from injury.
"I felt every bit of heat that he felt just coming back and throwing," Mike Simonds said. "Every time he would sit down and ice the arm because it was hurting so bad or even if it wasn't hurting bad every time he would ice the arm and take care of it, I was right there with him. His mother was right there with him. His brothers and sister was right there with him. It's been a wild ride after that."
"It just goes without saying how proud [I am]," Simonds added. "It's just incredible to see how hard he's worked, not just on the baseball field, but also with his grades and stuff. He's zeroed in and focused on those grades. That's what I'm proudest of."
So far, Chris says that his favorite memory as a member of the Seminoles is the no-hitter they had against Lithonia this season. He'll have the opportunity to make plenty more memories in his final year at Salem.