Marley Sims ahead of her time: Former West Harrison star going to college early

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In a world where high school seniors across the country would give anything for a proper send-off, one local high school junior is choosing not to have a senior season at all.

Instead, former West Harrison softball standout Marley Sims is heading off to college with three years of varsity experience despite playing just four games since the end of her sophomore season.

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“That’s a good point. I’ve told Marley, I don’t know if you realize it but you’re missing your junior and your senior season.”

“It’s crazy. I’ve never heard of it. Especially for softball, I’ve never really heard of anybody graduating early in the first place to go play, but just skipping out on a junior and a senior year, it’s kind of crazy and it just makes me think like whoa.”

As unusual as her predicament may seem, Marley Sims is used to being on the fast-track. By the time she was an eighth grader at West Harrison, Marley was already batting lead-off as the starting shortstop for the Lady Hurricanes. “I mean I’ve always grown up pretty competitive, so the hard work part just kind of came natural. I mean it was natural to go out and work hard and do things at 110 percent all the time.”

Even standing in the other batter’s box came naturally. “(So you write right-handed? Throw a ball right-handed? ) I do everything right-handed except for hit. (And when did that change?) Seventh grade is when I started working on it, but mostly eighth grade and I was full-time left-handed by ninth grade.”

Todd Sims, Marley’s father, said, “She was a natural right-handed hitter, and that was about the time she switched over to left-handed and started slapping and using her speed. We realized she had pretty good speed and wanted to take advantage of it.”

They say speed kills, but in this case, being a lefty gave Marley’s softball career all kinds of new life. She stole 50 bases from her eighth grade to 10th grade seasons to go along with a career .500 on base percentage.

It wasn’t long before schools really started to take note of her .576 batting average as a sophomore including Chipola College in Marianna, Florida. And Marley simply couldn’t say no to the reigning NJCAA Division I national champions giving her verbal pledge back in October. “(When did not having a senior season become a possibility for you?) Oh. That idea came up this past Christmas, so as soon as we got out to go back to school from Christmas break was when it was like all my online classes were starting up, and now we’re like really going for it.”

Marley was supposed to have a junior season and a senior season and being able to knock out her last six credit hours online at Mississippi State, Marley is now a 17-year-old graduate, willing to give up her one chance of being a high school senior. “The main thing I was looking at is where I want to go next. Like my next step, I’ve always wanted to go play at a big school. University. Four-year. And I just feel like going to Chipola and getting that one extra year of good, solid work would get me to where I want to go.”

“What she’s been through, switching from right to left, missing her senior season – it’s not your normal story – and she misses out on her senior night and the little things like that that she realizes she may regret down the road, but her focus is just getting to that next level.”

As of now, Marley says she’ll be reporting to Chipola in August, still undecided about the possibility of red-shirting with an academic focus on nursing.

Power Five schools like Florida State, Tennessee, and LSU are all on Chipola’s fall schedule.

Marley’s older sister Sydney-Brooke also played at West Harrison as well as one season at MGCCC.

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A native of Pass Christian and a St. Stanislaus alum, Jeff Haeger comes to News 25 from right in our backyard. He most recently spent more than three years working as the sports reporter for WHLT-TV in Hattiesburg, where he provided extensive coverage of his alma mater, The University of Southern Mississippi. At Southern Miss, Jeff was a member of the Honors College and graduated with a B.A. degree in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Spanish. He also wrote for USM's award-winning school newspaper, The Student Printz, where he won first place for Best Sports Story in 2013. Jeff loves to travel, and is excited to get back on the water to reunite with his family. In his spare time you can find Jeff spending time with his friends, and maybe even winning a fantasy football league. For sports stories contact Jeff at jhaeger@wxxv25.com.

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