Softball player Jada Simon speaks on her time as an athlete at Point Park University


Photo by Photo Submitted by Jada Simon

Jada Simon pitching for the Pioneers at Fairhaven Park

Written By Antonio Rossetti, Co-Sports Editor

In 2020, junior pitcher Jada Simon got her first taste of Pioneer baseball and returned home to Pittsburgh. Simon is an ace pitcher for the team, but transferring from Fairmont State and back to Point Park was quite the journey.

Simon went to high school at Seton-Lasalle, and she helped the team win three sectional titles during her time there. She made the decision to play for Fairmont State after she graduated in 2019.

In her freshman year, she  had 27 at-bats and had six starts. 

The transition to college softball had its challenges, and she said she believes that it is important to be motivated by the sport in order to play softball at the college level. Simon acknowledged that being an athlete and a full-time student can be stressful.

“It can be hard and stressful as a student-athlete as well, and a lot of people can’t handle that stress,” said Simon. “I think that if you’re able to handle being an athlete, as well as taking care of your academics, that’s very important when transitioning from high school to college, because college is a completely different animal compared to high school.”

After her freshman year, she transferred to Point Park University so she could be closer to home and closer to her family.

“My mom went to Point Park, and she really enjoyed Point Park. And it’s also very close to home, so I’m able to commute from home,” said Simon. “But all in all, I really enjoyed their facilities, and the coaches really made me happy.”

Simon had a smooth transition to Point Park, and she said that the proximity to home made it much easier. She also said that her teammates and coaches helped her out when she first transferred to Point Park.

“It was a very smooth transition considering the fact that I wasn’t necessarily happy with myself at Fairmont State, and I wanted to be somewhere where I felt comfortable. It was very smooth,” Simon said. “Meeting all my teammates and having them and knowing that they have my back in any situation as well as meeting with the coaches and getting to know them was also smooth as well. They were very nice and very kind.”

In Simon’s first year at Point Park, she played in just six games before the season was canceled due to COVID-19. She said that the cancellation of the season was rough for her and the team. There were seniors on the team who didn’t get to finish out their softball careers, and the team had to start from scratch heading into the next season. She mentioned that it hurt the team mentally to get back into the swing of things when the team did practice again.

Despite the shortened season, Simon said she believes that it actually brought the team closer together. The team had limited chemistry at first, but it was easy for her and the team to understand each other since they knew each other off the field on a more personal level.

“I think that it also helped us grow as a team because we were able to be individuals, and we were able to connect as individuals as well off the field during this time period because we’re all still teammates,” said Simon. “We still have our regular team things, but when COVID hit, all we had was each other. There was no softball involved … we [just] had each other.”

This helped them grow as a team, and the team played a full 2021 season. Simon had a career year during her junior season not only on the rubber, but also in the batter’s box too. Simon held the best Earned Run Average (ERA) on the team, which was 4.22, while also striking out 31 batters in 114.1 innings pitched. She had the most innings pitched on the team and walked just 9 batters last season.

She also batted .356 last year, while also tallying two home runs. She drove in 19 runs and started in 28 games her junior season. Simon said that the changes she made were mental changes and not so much physical and fundamental changes. She mentioned that softball is a game of failure and although one may get out more than they get on base, it is important to stay confident in those situations.

“I think that the hardest part mentally is is understanding that it’s okay to fail in our sport. It’s okay to strike out, [and] it’s okay to have bad games,” Simon said. “It’s okay to give up a home run. It’s about how you react after and what you do to change your mindset.”

Simon adjusted her mentality and listened to her coaches to not beat herself up over games where she may struggle.

“My hitting coach always tells me, we always talk about the mental part of the game. Even if you’re not doing good, the thing that stuck with me the most was that he said you got to fake it until you make it,” said Simon. “Even if you’re not hitting well, you’re not pitching well or you’re not feeling well, with all those things that are going on, It’s okay to act a little cocky because like I said, this game is a game of failure.”

Confidence in softball is essential, and it really helped Simon adjust and produce for the Pioneers during her sophomore season. In 2021, that confidence helped Point Park get off to a hot start last season. However, they tailed off at the tail end of the season. In her junior season this year, she and the team plan on picking each other up and improving as a team to make a River States Conference (RSC) playoff push.

“We’re on the topic of picking each other up and I really believe that it plays a larger role in high school sports. Compared to last year, I think that there’s a lot of positive reinforcement from our teammates and that positive reinforcement is what you need for any type of success,” said Simon. “You’re going to get reinforcement from coaching, but the positive reinforcement mentally helps each other.”

Simon realizes that now she is an upperclassman, there are high expectations for her to perform well. She said she believes this helps her stay sharp so she can help the younger players learn from her due to her experience thus far. Simon said that she needs to meet expectations, and she has during her junior season;  she has the lowest ERA on the team, and she also has the most strikeouts for the team thus far.

Simon is excited for her season this year and her senior season next year, and she wants the team to fulfill their potential.

“I believe that we have a lot of potential on our team and I at the end of the day, we just want to win,” Simon said. “I know that we can. We are a very strong team. We have a lot of potential on our team and I think that we can go a long way. It’s just about sticking together and constantly picking each other up to keep getting those wins.”