With 270 of 519 votes, Woodland/Flanagan-Cornell sophomore softball pitcher Shae Simons — who has all three of the regional-champion Warriors’ postseason pitching wins heading into Saturday’s sectional championship game against Newark — is your pick for The Times Athlete of the Week.
Hayden McKenna (Marquette baseball) was the runner-up in voting, with Davey Rashid (Streator boys tennis) and Megan Williams (Newark girls track and field) also on the ballot.
Here is a Q&A with this week’s winner:
Do you have any nicknames?
My nicknames are “ShaeBird” or “Bird.”
Your team has had a rough run down the stretch with injuries and whatnot, but has been able to overcome that adversity and advance to a sectional championship game. What’s been the key to the team’s resiliency?
What we have done so far is overcome the errors in the past and step up as a team to situations where players have been out.
What is your game-day routine?
My pregame routine is to make sure that my teammates and I are ready for the game and relax to be mentally prepared for the game that day.
What so far has been your favorite memory made on a softball diamond?
My favorite memories are definitely the regional championship game and when I was a freshman starting at varsity level having a no-hitter.
Who have been a few of the most influential coaches in your life?
A few influential coaches I have had are first my dad, he has been through softball with me from the very beginning, Hiliary/Jonathan Hon, my pitching coaches, and I can’t forget Coach Farris, Coach Hoekstra and Coach Dave.
What’s your favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject in school is English.
What are your personal top three breakfast cereals?
I don’t like cereal, but my favorite breakfast food would have to be avocado on a bagel with sriracha.
How old were you when you first started pitching? What made you want to pitch?
I was 6 when I started pitching in city ball, and what got me into pitching was the fun of it. I tried it, and I loved it from the very beginning.
Bottom of the seventh inning, two outs, bases loaded in a tie game. With the game on the line, would you rather be stepping into the batter’s box or toeing the pitcher’s rubber?
I will always and forever pick toeing the pitcher’s rubber. It is my safe spot.
Do you have any college plans? If so, do they involve sports?
My dream is to go to Illinois State University to become a teacher and play softball there for D1. When I go to college, I would love to be a pitcher, and if they need a setter for volleyball I would be more than happy to fill in too. I would also really like to take the time to thank everyone who voted for me. I can’t believe the amount of support I have gotten through the years. I am honored to be this week’s Athlete of the Week.