Tessa Sims started to tear up a little bit as her older sister Leslie started to talk about what life will be like in the fall when the two are separated for the first time.
Hauser softball opponents, meanwhile, will be crying tears of joy.
Well, sort of.
Though they’ll still have to deal with Tessa, one of the state’s top pitchers, for two more years, they won’t be facing both Sims sisters — a one-two punch that has dominated Indiana high school softball for the past two seasons.
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Leslie Sims earned The Republic’s Softball Player of the Year honors as a sophomore and a junior, and ordinarily, she’d be a lock to do so again. The senior shortstop owns six different IHSAA records, including the marks for career hits, batting average and stolen bases.
From a statistical standpoint, she is arguably the greatest high school leadoff hitter in Indiana softball history.
Tessa, though, would also be a shoo-in for Player of the Year honors in a normal year. The pitcher posted an earned-run average of 0.53 and walked just five batters all season while striking out 181.
She has a career postseason record of 11-1, leading the Jets to a state championship last year and helping them to within one run of the final game this spring.
Two singular talents who not only represent the same team, but for the same family. Perhaps it’s only fitting that in their final season playing together at Hauser, Leslie and Tessa Sims share the title of Player of the Year.
Though the two have extremely different skill sets, each has been equally vital to the team’s success.
Leslie has been the poster girl for the term “speed kills,” able to single-handedly generate offense like no other. She gets on base, takes extra bases almost at will, and cashes in — her 193 career runs scored were one shy of the official IHSAA mark set by Whiting’s Mel Dumezich in 2009.
“Is she one of the greatest in Indiana ever to play the game?” asked her father, Hauser head coach Craig Sims. “I think that the stats kind of speak for themselves, to be honest with you.”
What truly separates the wheat from the chaff in high school softball, however, is pitching. The Jets were a solid team before Tessa’s arrival, going 14-12 and advancing to regional play in 2014, but since she’s reached high school, Hauser is 52-5.
“You can be a good team with good defense and good hitting and a decent pitcher,” Leslie Sims said, “but to be a great team, you need great pitching, and that’s what Tessa brought to the table.”
Together, Leslie and Tessa have been nearly unbeatable. The dynamic duo will be splitting up next season when Leslie takes her talents to Terre Haute to play for Indiana State, but they won’t be apart for long — Tessa has already committed to play for the Sycamores beginning in 2019.
“It’s going to be sad,” Leslie said of splitting up, “but I’ll see her in two years, and we’ll do big things there together.”
Elyse Babb, senior C, Columbus East
A Butler signee and a second-team ICGSA All-State pick, Babb was the Olympians’ top hitter and an outstanding defensive player behind the plate.
Sidney Beier, freshman C, Edinburgh
Beier hit a team-best .529 for the Lancers, adding 24 runs, 26 RBIs, three home runs, 15 doubles and 13 stolen bases.
Madisyn Clark, senior P, Edinburgh
Clark posted a 2.02 ERA and struck out 99 while walking just 10, leading the Lancers to a sectional title before being injured in the regional.
Bug Donnell, senior P, Jennings County
Donnell was the top pitcher for the Panthers, finishing the year with a 2.02 ERA and 51 strikeouts. She also batted .359 with a home run.
Sidney Giles, senior 3B, Hauser
The Jets’ cleanup hitter batted .364, scored 25 runs and led the team with 30 RBIs and six triples. She also served as the team’s No. 2 pitcher.
Abby Kidwell, senior 2B, Hauser
Kidwell batted .333, scored 18 runs and stole 10 bases while anchoring the middle of an all-senior infield for the 26-1 Jets.
Tesla Kopitzke, junior 1B, Jennings County
Kopitzke batted .449 with a home run and 24 RBI for the Panthers, who finished 16-10 against a murderous schedule.
Hailey Lange, junior C, Hauser
A strong presence behind the plate for the Jets, Lange hit .341 out of the No. 3 spot with three homers and 25 RBIs while scoring 33 runs.
Kyndyl Olds, senior OF, Jennings County
Arguably the best player in the area not named Sims, Olds hit .575 with 34 runs, 23 RBIs, three triples, a 1.344 on-base plus slugging and 19 steals, earning a second-team ICGSA All-State nod.
Katie Prall, senior OF, Columbus North
Prall batted .436 with a 1.156 OPS at the top of the lineup for the Bull Dogs, adding seven triples and a home run and scoring 19 runs.
Leslie Sims, senior SS, Hauser
A first-team ICGSA all-state selection, Sims led the area with a .667 batting average, 58 runs scored, 59 steals and a 1.476 OPS.
Tessa Sims, sophomore P, Hauser
In addition to dominating on the mound, Sims also batted .402 with four triples, scored 39 runs and drove in 20 more.
Tommi Stowers, senior C, Columbus North
Stowers was the Bull Dogs’ top hitter, batting .452 with a 1.213 OPS while scoring 22 runs and contributing 14 extra-base hits.
Bailey Woodall, junior OF/P, Edinburgh
Woodall batted .423, with 24 runs scored and 23 RBIs. She was also the Lancers’ No. 2 pitcher, striking out 70 K against just 11 walks.
Columbus East: Hayley Smalley; Columbus North: Christine Bombardiere, Madisyn Prince; Edinburgh: Bri Howard; Hauser: Kali Schumacher, Sydney Schoen; Jennings County: Amanda Bonesteel, Heather Feiles, Sidney Gerkin, Gabby Mahoney.
State high school records set by Leslie Sims at Hauser:
Highest single-season batting average (.707 in 2014)
Highest career batting average (.648)
Most career hits (246)
Longest hitting streak (76 games)
Most stolen bases in a season (72 in 2013)
Most career stolen bases (240)*
* — Fourth all-time nationwide, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations record book
Leslie Sims by the numbers in 2016:
.667 batting average
58 runs scored
59 stolen bases
1.476 on-base plus slugging
Tessa Sims by the numbers in 2016:
in the pitching circle…
0.53 earned-run average
and at the plate…
.402 batting average
39 runs scored
20 runs batted in