By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Multiple trips to State, several All-State players, numerous wins and a multitude of champions to go along with countless college signees. The architect of the program and its rich history said latest Lady Cardinal to sign to the collegiate level exemplifies what it means to be a Lady Cardinal.
On National Signing Day 2018, Brighton Head Coach Robin Jacobs was there in the Brighton High School Library to witness senior Haley Simpson ink her national letter of intent to play softball at Delta State.
“One of the best teammates we’ve had here in the past 25 years,” he said. “What she does for the team and what she does to make everybody a better player, Haley is one of those people who makes people better around her. That’s huge.
“She’s been patient,” Jacobs continued. “She waited her turn and now we’re expecting her to lead our team this year. She’ll be up to the challenge.”
Simpson showed up to work every practice and did the little things to help the starters get better. In her first two seasons, Brighton earned births in the Class 3A State Softball Tournament.
Meanwhile Simpson played travel softball for teams like the Illusions with her parents Shane and April supporting her the entire way.
“We’re both very excited,” Shane said. “We were hoping she would be able to play at the next level. Thank goodness she is able to do that and we’ll be able to play. We didn’t know what we would do when this was all over. She’s the baby.”
Big sister Hunter played softball and showed her younger sister a few things to do on the field. It was the support of her family that helped her be patient while waiting her turn for the Lady Cardinals.
“I waited my turn and worked hard,” Haley said. “Just do what you’ve got to do. They taught me to always do what you’re told and work hard for it.”
Shane said Haley embodies the lessons taught at home.
“We pushed her when she was younger to be a good teammate and a good person and be a good leader,” he said. “I tried to teach her don’t go into the dugout down. And as a senior, don’t go in there expecting somebody else to pick the balls up. You do it. We’ve pounded that into her to be a good leader.”
Jacobs said Simpson will be counted on for leadership in the dugout and on the field.
“She’s going to catch and she’s probably going to bat four or five for us,” he noted. “We’ve have some good hitters in that three, four and five spots. Great kids who I believe could hit it out at any time. And she’s one of them. We’re excited about it.”
Delta State Head Coach Casey Bourgoyne-Charles will be happy to add Simpson to her lineup in 2019. The Lady Statesmen play in the Gulf South Conference in NCAA Division II.
Simpson will join her former Brighton teammate Ta’mya Johnson and Tipton County rival Ali Gover on the roster at Delta State.
“I like it down there,” Haley said. “I’ve got to work my way up.”
April said her youngest child will take on the challenge because she is driven to play softball and is willing to sacrifice.
“Softball is her favorite,” she said. “She’s a hard worker. She goes and gets into the batting cage. She throws. She puts all of that on herself.
“And we taught her,” April concluded, “don’t expect anybody to do something you wouldn’t do.”