Brooke Simmons of Glen Cove on March 23.

Brooke Simmons of Glen Cove on March 23. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Brooke Simmons is hitting her spots and, as a result, no one hit her on opening day. The Glen Cove freshman, armed with a goal of improving off her strong eighth grade season on the softball team, opened her second varsity season with a no-hitter last weekend, striking out 18 batters in a 6-0 win over Locust Valley.

Constant improvement was the mandate. On opening day, she couldn’t get much better.

“I was shocked, to say the least,” said Simmons, who is Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. “I always had aspirations to throw a no-hitter or a perfect game. I never thought I would get it my freshman year. When (coach Kimberly Kessel) told me, I was really excited and happy.”

It was her first high school no-no, Simmons said. The ball she used is safely in her trophy case, still untouched.

“I knew it was opening day. We had to come out with a statement, and I think we definitely came out with a statement,” Simmons said.

And she dealt the most emphatic one.

“Just that I’m the same person as last year, who’s throwing just as well — and even better,” she said of what the no-hitter should tell people. “And, to expect a lot of good things from (me) this year.”

Simmons, who had more than 150 strikeouts as an eighth grader, worked last summer on getting more comfortable throwing secondary pitches. Both her curveball and changeup can consistently go for strikes, making her far more enigmatic to hitters.

“I was more nervous, more tense throwing (curves or changeups) because I was always expecting (them) to go right and (they) really never did,” Simmons recalled.  “When I worked on it during the summer, I got it more locked down and I definitely have it in my back pocket to use. It’s way more consistent than it was last year.”

Last weekend, she was able to showcase her new, more dynamic, rolodex of pitches. On opening day, rust is sometimes unavoidable. But, for her, there was very little.

“There’s always nerves opening day — first inning, first batter, first pitch of the game,” she said. “But, once that first pitch went by and it was a strike, I knew that things were going really well in my direction. It helped me settle in, calm down, and not be as nervous.”

Kessel noticed the command almost immediately.

“She had some swag on the mound that day,” Kessel said. “She came out ready to go. It’s like we didn’t leave last season . . . She had a ton of confidence as an eighth grader also, but she walks out to the mound and owns the circle. The team feeds off of it.”

Simmons' success continued into the season’s first full week. She struck out 12 in a 2-1 loss to Port Washington on Thursday.

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