Kasey Cooper (above) makes a play at the College World Series.
Auburn, Ala.--Even without the uncooperative weather which shortened the tryouts, Kasey Cooper and the other players from around the country invited to the Team USA softball trials weren’t going to have a lot of time to show they deserved one of the 17 spots on the roster.
Cooper made Auburn history when she became the first Tiger player to be selected to the national team, which was announced on Friday.
“We had some bad weather and that actually cut tryouts in half,” she tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. “Instead of 18 at-bats we got nine because we couldn’t see live (pitching) in the indoor.”
Auburn coach Clint Myers notes that the junior third baseman made the most of her time at the trials in California. “We are real excited and very proud of her,” he says. “She had a phenomenal trials.
“She went 5-6 with three walks. She did everything that was asked of her and she proved playing with the very best she belongs in that elite group. We can’t wait to see her play on television.”
Two of those hits were home runs. Commenting on how she hit the ball at the trials, the third baseman says, “I did okay.”
Coming off an All-American sophomore season in which she led the Tigers to their first SEC Tournament title and Auburn’s first appearance in the softball College World Series where they won two games, Cooper notes that she enjoyed the experience at the trials. “It was great. It was very different, but I?loved the atmosphere and the girls.
“Playing with players of that caliber was something that was spectacular,” she points out. “We learned a lot, competed and had fun.”
“It was crazy,” she adds. “It was completely different warmups, totally opposite of what we do here. It is about adapting. We all adapted. We were a little rusty, you could tell, but by the end of the day we put everything out there on the field and we had fun doing it.”
Cooper says that being able to make the team is a dream come true, noting she has been watching Team USA since she was a youngster growing up in Dothan.
“My sister has a ball from the Olympics in Atlanta and I?have a ball from Team USA when they played in Montgomery,” she says. “Being able to put on that jersey means a lot. It is a dream come true and a lot of hard work, but most importantly it reflects on my team, Auburn and my community and all of my coaches--anybody who has ever helped me.
“I am really blessed and truly honored to have this and I thank God everyday for giving this opportunity,” she says.
Kasey Cooper is an outstanding fielder at third base as well as a player who hits for a high average with power.
Cooper and her teammates wrapped up their “Hell Week” of preseason drills on Tuesday, a series of total immersion of softball in the morning, afternoon and evenings. She says that the Tigers, who finished 56-11 last year, are off to the best start she has seen in preseason. “The team is working together really well and we retained much from the fall. We were all really happy about how far we have come so far.”
Cooper heads into her third collegiate season with a .404 batting average with 141 RBI?and 36 home runs in 126 games. She is a two-time All-American on the field and as a sophomore was named to the Academic All-American team.
The Tigers will open the 2016 season with a home game on Feb. 11th at newly remodeled Jane B. Moore Field.