Tessa Sims knew when the softball season began that this year would be more difficult than her first two at Hauser.

Not only had the Jets lost their entire infield, but Sims was experiencing pain in her shoulder and neck. Five games into the season, she went to see a doctor and was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

After that, Sims didn’t pitch again until the final game of the regular season. The junior then led Hauser to three consecutive wins that gave the Jets the Rising Sun Sectional title.

“There for a little bit, I thought I was going to be able to make it through the whole entire season until I went and saw my doctor,” said Sims, The Republic Softball Player of the Year. “Then postseason, when I came out and pitched against Jac-Cen-Del, that was probably one of my better games.”

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That set up a regional battle with Edinburgh. The Jets had beaten the Lancers twice in the regular season — both times by one run. Those were the last two games that Sims pitched until the final game of the regular season.

Edinburgh pushed across a run in the first inning, and that was the only score of the game in its 1-0 victory.

“Against Edinburgh, I was so sore, and everything was just really tight,” Sims said. “Before the game even started, I knew it was going to be a bad game for me pitching-wise because it was really tight. But I just went in with nothing to lose and hoped for the best.”

Even though she didn’t pitch for most of the regular season, Sims still was able to play first base and hit. She led the Jets with a .564 average, three home runs and 43 runs scored and was second on the team with 39 RBIs.

Pitching-wise, Sims finished 8-1 with a 1.14 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 49 innings.

“I thought she really stepped up her offensive game, and I think a lot of that was because she wasn’t pitching a lot, and she felt like that was her way of being able to contribute,” said her father, Hauser coach Craig Sims. “She was definitely frustrated by not being able to pitch, but when she did pitch in the postseason, I thought she was pretty daggone sharp, given that she hadn’t pitched for over a month. It’s hard to not throw at all for 30 days and then pick the ball up and be as sharp as what she was.”

Tessa Sims underwent surgery on July 13 in St. Louis. Dr. Robert Thompson, who designed surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, performed the operation, which included the removal of one of her ribs.

Although she didn’t play basketball this season, Tessa Sims is hoping to be able to play her senior year. But Thompson’s assistant told her of a case where a pitcher who underwent surgery over the summer wasn’t able to pitch until late the next spring.

“It just depends when my doctor will release me,” Tessa Sims said. “He said that he could release me in three months, and I could be completely fine after I do two months of physical therapy.”

The Softball Player of the Year honor is the second for Tessa Sims. Last year, she shared the honor with her sister Leslie, who just finished her freshman year at Indiana State University.

Craig Sims said Tessa didn’t have the control pitching that she had the prior two seasons, and that was because her hand was going numb.

“Hopefully, this takes care of that problem, and we can move forward,” he said. “That’s the reason she had it done — for the future. Everything went well surgery-wise. Now, it’s just going to be some time to get healed up and get the physical therapy done.”

At a glance

The Republic All-Area team:

Tessa Sims, Hauser: The junior went 8-1 with a 1.14 ERA, led the Jets with a .564 average, three HR and 43 runs scored and had 39 RBIs.

Hailey Lange, Hauser: The senior batted .505 with a home run and led the Jets with 46 RBIs.

Sidney Beier, Edinburgh: The sophomore led the Lancers with a .521 average, 12 HR, 45 RBIs and 37 runs.

Maddi Clark, Edinburgh: The junior went 10-5 with a 1.46 ERA and batted .474 with one HR, 17 RBIs and 29 runs.

Bailey Woodall, Edinburgh: The senior went 10-1 with a 1.25 ERA and batted .481 with one HR, 19 RBIs and 27 runs.

Bri Howard, Edinburgh: The senior batted .449 with one HR, 23 RBIs and 25 runs.

Mackenzie Byram, Jennings County: The senior led the Panthers with a .429 average, seven HR and 26 RBIs.

Amanda Bonesteel, Jennings County: The senior went 4-4 with a 3.55 ERA and batted .390 with three HR and 23 RBIs.

Sidney Gerkin, Jennings County: The senior batted .373 with 16 RBIs and led the Panthers with 20 runs.

Emma Summers, Brown County: The freshman went 11-4 with a 1.18 ERA and led the Eagles with a .423 average.

Maddy Edds, Brown County: The senior batted .314 led the Eagles with three HR and 22 RBIs.

Kaitlin Wagner, Columbus East: The senior batted .304 with two HR and 10 RBIs and led the Olympians with 17 runs.

Mady Foster, Columbus East: The freshman led the Olympians with a .375 average and had eight RBIs and 15 runs.

Sierra Norman, Columbus North: The freshman led the Bull Dogs with a .456 average, six doubles and 20 RBIs and had two HR.

Savannah Harweger, Trinity Lutheran: The sophomore led the Cougars with a .554 average and two HR.

Honorable mention

Brown County: Aubrey Hollander, Adriana Kritzer. Columbus East: Carissa Bombardiere, Jordan Johnston. Columbus North: Brooke Bruin, Bailey Lofton. Edinburgh: Grace Joiner, Vanessa McManaway. Hauser: Mykenzie Ault, Hunter Crain. Jennings County: Tesla Kopitzke, Gabby Mahoney, Madi Skinnerr. South Decatur: Mackenzie Kopplin, Chloee Smith. Trinity Lutheran: Jodi Goecker, Jaryn Holtsclaw, Amanda Wright.

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.