Cooper Off to Super Start As A Freshman

Kasey Cooper has provided plenty of help for the Auburn softball Tigers who begin postseason play this week in the SEC Tournament.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's first-year head coach, Clint Myers, has high praise for the play of his star third baseman, Kasey Cooper, who just finished a very impressive regular season as the Tigers head into the SEC Women's Softball Tournament.

Cooper has a very healthy .416 batting average and leads the Tigers with 16 home runs, one shy of the Auburn single-season record. The former Dothan High star's production goes even deeper than those numbers.

She has an on-base percentage of .528 with just six strikeouts to go with 39 bases on balls while also doing an excellent job defensively at third base.

"She is a very good athlete, she is highly intelligent and she is very coachable so when you talk about certain things she picks them up very well," said Myers, whose Tigers finished the regular season with a 38-16-1 record.

"She has developed this season and she works very hard in the classroom and on the softball field," Myers added. "She is a straight A student. Having somebody who can comprehend and learn as quickly as she does is an asset and she is having a phenomenal year."

Cooper said her first year of college has been "a great experience" even though it has been a demanding time in her life.

Asked what her biggest adjustment has been to the college lifestyle, she said, "The whole schedule with 5:30 workouts, then classes, then practice, then study hall--it's very grueling. It is all about the grind. Now that finals are over and just being able to focus on softball, it's a great feeling."

Next on the agenda for the Tigers is a 5:30 p.m. CDT contest on Wednesday vs. host South Carolina in the opening round of the SEC Tournament. The Gamecocks closed the regular season by winning two of three games vs. the Tigers to qualify for the event on their home field.

If the Tigers win that game they will advance to a second round game vs. No. 1 seed Alabama, a team they defeated in their only matchup this year.

Kasey Cooper hits for average, power and in the clutch for the Tigers.

Cooper, who was named the high school player of the year in the state of Alabama as a senior, narrowed her choice of a college to the Tigers and Tide.

"It came down to my visits," said Cooper, who is majoring in mechanical engineering. "Auburn felt like home and the engineering department is nationally ranked. It is all about school."

Cooper is a finalist for an award to be presented to the national freshman of the year. Asked if he is surprised at how well the third baseman has performed, Myers said, "No, but our expectations for everybody is to have Kasey's year, it just doesn't work out that way.

"In her situation she clearly showed early on that she had the capability of being a good hitter," the coach pointed out. "There were a few things we had to work on with her mechanics. The results speak for themselves because she is having a great year and is clearly one of the top freshmen in the country."

The Tigers have made major improvements as a team since last season. Cooper said it is no accident that Auburn is a fundamentally sound team. "It happens at practice," she noted. "Every single day we work hard on the little things."

Cooper points out that the new coaching staff has pushed the players to improve their performance level. "In the fall, through hell week, we had to come together as a team and rely on each other. The coaches have really instilled team unity."

Auburn's coaches have also worked on improving the team's confidence. Cooper said there is no reason the Tigers can't make a strong run in postseason play.

"We hold our own destiny and control our own fate," she said. "It is how well we do the little things and can we execute the situations."

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