A lot of us thought each time Holden Simpson came to bat for the Jackets he was going to get a base hit. That, of course, didn't happen, but a ground out or fly ball into the center fielder's glove did not erase the original belief when he next stepped into the batter's box.
Soon, Holden will be playing—and attending classes—at Western Texas College in Snyder. It's a two-year school with an enrollment right at 2,400.
"I'm thrilled, a dream come true," Simpson told me, following a brief ceremony announcing his intent to be a part of the Westerners' baseball team.
"I'll play shortstop or second base," he declared. Short was his position at Llano High. He's an excellent infielder, but he got no argument from me, saying, "Hitting is my strong suit; I almost feel like I can't get out. I pride myself on it."
"It's good he gets to continue to play," noted Stephen Campbell, his coach for the last two seasons. "There's always a day when you're not good enough to play anymore, but he's getting an opportunity."
Holden didn't face Western Texas pitching when he visited with head coach Cameron Dodd. Simpson thought an April 10 double off Liberty Hill's Marshall Brown in a sixth-inning rally was a big deal, maybe for a couple of reasons. Brown's a fine pitcher, who will be Holden's teammate in Snyder.
Moment to remember: Simpson had two doubles and a single and was on base five times in a 12-11 win over St. Michael's, March 13.
Personal note: Llano was in Fredericksburg a couple of years ago, and the count was 3-and-1 on Holden. The next pitch was high, so I'm thinking, "Good, he's on base." But he swung at the ball, a foot over his head—and ripped a line drive. It was foul, yes, but how he ever connected, with such power, with a pitch not close to the strike zone I'll never know.
You might get the feeling a junior college or community college doesn't recruit the top-flight players from high school, but, "They'll bring in a ton of guys," says Campbell, "who will be very competitive, especially on the mound—some who want the opportunity to play Division I or II in a couple of years. Can't take it lightly at all."
Don't take Holden lightly, either. He was a hard-nosed combatant and quarterback in football and played a role in the Jacket golf team winning a bronze medal at state. Baseball is his best sport, and Western Texas will soon have a good one playing his best.

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