When the Eastside Eagles baseball team got to the place on its order where Josh Sims was up to bat last week against Alcovy, Eastside coach Bruce Evans had already figured out how he wanted to handle Sims’ first at-bat since returning from thumb surgery.
“At first I didn’t want him to go out there,” Evans said. “Then I just wanted him to either swing light or just take the pitches, strike him out, just so he could get back in the swing of being in the batter’s box.”
But anyone who knows Sims knows that’s just not his way.
The James Madison football signee was just a few months removed from helping the Eagles to another state football playoff appearance. He was just a couple of weeks removed from National Signing Day.
Sims had signed his letter of intent. He was recovering well from surgery. No one would’ve blamed him if he would’ve decided to take the rest of the spring off and get ready for the college gridiron.
Perhaps that’s some of what was in Evans’ mind when he tried to persuade his outfielder to take it easy.
But, again, that’s just not Sims’ way.
“He argued me down about it,” Evans said. “He wanted to go up there and take full swings. He didn’t want to take it easy on his first at-bat. He told me he could get the bunt down at least. That’s just the kind of competitor he is.”
Sims said he had to gently remind his coach why he was dressed and on the Eagles’ lineup in the first place.
“Of course, I just wanted to be out there, just like any competitor,” Sims said. “It’s been hard to just sit out. Any competitor just wants to be out there on the field making plays to help their team.”
And that’s what Sims did. He stepped up to the plate and perfectly executed a sacrifice bunt that actually drove in a run during Eastside’s 14-4 win over Alcovy this past week. It was the perfect welcome back party for the speedy outfielder who made it clear that he had some unfinished business on the baseball field he wanted to tend to.
“I think we can be a good team this year,” Sims said. “I think we can be a great team. It’s just a matter of us coming together and doing what we know we can do.”
In his – and probably all of the Eastside baseball squad’s mind – a return, and deep run into the Class AAAA state tournament is among the possibilities. Eastside lost to eventual Class AAAA runner-up Buford in the state semifinals in 2016, and with Sims back along side his good friend and fellow senior Austin Holloway, Evans believes his Eagles have a legitimate shot.
“Josh was just itching to get back in there, and we were glad to have him back because he’s just such a great leader for our guys,” Evans said. “He sets such a good example for everyone out here. It’s awesome to see him back. He’s the best outfielder around.