November 3, 2017 9:48:26 AM
Friends tend to see things the same way.
Through all of the discussions about colleges, Bryce Braddock and Nick Sims relied on their friendship to help them determine the best school to continue their baseball careers. It just so happened they both decided on the same destination.
On Thursday, the new Hope High School seniors made it official when they signed National Letters of Intent to play baseball at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Perkinston. Braddock and Sims will join the program coached by Rodney Batts, who is from New Hope.
"I was probably going to go there either way it went, but it took a little convincing on Nick," Braddock said. "I think I got him to see where I wanted to go. I am glad he came down with me. It definitely made a difference (in the final decision)."
Braddock said a strong showing in the Mississippi State Games helped him attract the attention of Batts. He said he visited the campus with Sims in late July. He said he had a good feeling after seeing the school and the baseball facility. Braddock said he waited a month to a month and a half to make sure Sims was going to pick Mississippi Gulf Coast. Fortunately, Braddock said he didn't have to work hard to convince Sims to join him.
Braddock hit .292 in 33 games last season. He scored 15 runs, had 26 hits, 24 RBIs, seven doubles, and two home runs. He also had a .981 fielding percentage (three errors). He will be in his third year as a starter in 2018.
Sims hit .256 in 30 games last season. He scored 19 runs, had 21 hits, 12 RBIs, four doubles, and a home run. He had a .919 fielding percentage (five errors). Sims was 1-0 with a 3.23 earned run average in seven games. He struck out 20 in 13 innings. He will be in his third year as a starter in 2018.
Sims credited all of the coaches he has had throughout the years. He said Brad Braddock, Bryce's father, was his first coach and he has worked his way up through the travel ball ranks with Hammers Baseball and the Golden Spikes. He also thanked Golden Spikes coaches Ronnie Joe Parker and Wayne Rainer and Boyd for all of the things he has learned from them. Sims had hats from all of his teams laid out on the table in front of him when he sat down and signed his paperwork.
"It is unreal to get to play baseball at the next level with my best friend," Sims said. "I give everything I got every time I go out there."
New Hope High baseball coach Lee Boyd said Sims likely will play shortstop this season. He said Sims also could be used out of the bullpen, but that his pitching role hasn't been determined. Last season, Sims spent time in the infield and in the outfield.
"I think what attracts college to Nick is his versatility," Boyd said. "Last year, we put him in center field. He can play there with anybody. He also one of our better infielders. He also is one of our better arms, and he swings the bat good. There are a lot of positives about Nick."
Boyd feels the same way about Braddock, who has played first base for the Trojans. He said Braddock, who was tied for second on the team in home runs in 2017, has the potential to develop even more power at the plate. Braddock also plays on the school's football and boys soccer teams. Boyd feels Braddock will have plenty of room to grow once gets to Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. and can devote his efforts to one sport.
"He has good hands at first base. He picks the ball well," Boyd said.
Braddock said it has been his dream to play baseball in college since he was a little kid. He said the success he had at the plate at the State Games helped him show Batts he could play in college. Braddock, who is 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, hopes to have a chance to earn playing time at first base in college.
Sims isn't sure where he will wind up, but he is excited to have a chance to play with Braddock in college.
"I loved everything about it," said Sims, who picked Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. over East Mississippi C.C., East Central C.C., and Meridian C.C. "I always thought we would go to the same school. We thought Drew was going to come, too, but he hasn't gotten an offer from them. We hope he will."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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