Nick Bonaventura, Staff Writer

Sophomore Jessica Simpson warms up for Kent State on April 16. (MICHAEL GRIGGS | The Miami Student)

Standing in the pitcher’s circle, Miami University softball pitcher Jessica Simpson is an intimidating force.

Standing at 5-foot-10, Simpson is a daunting opponent for any batter in college softball. It’s her focus and determination that have molded her into such an effective pitcher today.

As a freshman starting pitcher last season, Simpson stepped right in and was dominant. She struck out 189 batters on the season, good for third in Miami’s single season record book, while amassing a 24-12 record with a 2.17 ERA.

“I don’t really remember how nervous I was (for my first game) but I’m sure I was,” Simpson said. “I mostly just remember wanting to win that game so bad so I could start my college career off on the right foot.”

Miami softball Head Coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly described what Simpson meant to the team during her first season in Oxford.

“What Jessica brought as a freshman was she was ready to compete the day she stepped on campus,” Schoenly said. “She may have had to work to get ready, but she wanted the ball. She wanted to compete and win for Miami.”

Simpson had no problem winning games for Miami, especially in the 2009 MAC Tournament. In the event, she posted a 4-0 record with a blistering 0.50 ERA.

“I think any of my teammates would say winning the MAC Tournament last year was the most exciting thing, and I would have to agree,” Simpson said. “It was awesome to be able to contribute to that moment during my freshman year.”

The crucial decision to attend Miami was an easy one for Simpson to make.

“I grew up knowing about Miami because both of my parents went here,” Simpson said. “But ultimately meeting the coaches and the girls on the team is what influenced me to choose Miami over other schools.”

Simpson was recently acknowledged as the top collegiate softball player in the area by the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Women’s Sports Association.

Senior pitcher Meredith Linch, a talented pitcher herself, has extreme confidence in Simpson’s ability to go down as one of the best pitchers Miami has ever had.

“I strongly feel (Simpson) has more than enough talent to hold every pitching record there is at Miami by the end of her senior year,” Linch said.

Simpson gives much credit to her teammates and the coaching staff for helping to mold her into the player she is today.

“I have learned so much about the game from my teammates and coaches that I didn’t know before,” Simpson said. “Even with pitching there are so many details and strategies I never thought about before I started playing at the college level.”

Away from the softball field, Simpson is always one to give the other girls on the team a good laugh.

“Jessica has quite the humor off the field,” Linch said. “We always joke around with her about her Napoleon Dynamite-type of monotone voice and how expressionless she can be. It’s super funny and we love her for it.”

Schoenly echoed Linch, expressing how the team loves Simpson’s type of humor.

“Jessica is an extremely clever girl,” Schoenly said. “Her humor is dry, and her timing is spot on. The team cracks up at her monotone speech. It helps when people don’t take themselves too seriously, and the team appreciates her humor.”

Of course, there’s also the fact that Simpson shares her name witha certain celebrity.

“We always call her ‘The Jessica Simpson,'” Linch said. “That’s more because of her talent with our team than the celebrity aspect though.”