St. Aloysius sophomore pitcher Kyleigh Cooper is celebrating over 100 strikeouts for the second consecutive year.
Cooper threw seven K’s in a 12-3 victory over Park Place Christian Academy on Thursday, bringing her total to 105 strikeouts on the year.
“Honestly, this year I didn’t know that I would get them because it’s been more of a fight since we’ve had so much competition. But when I found out I was close, I fought extra hard to reach it in the next inning,” Cooper said.
Cooper trained extensively coming into the season, but was hit by a roadblock when her grandfather, Gary Jones, passed away two months ago. She learned to play from her grandfather, and it was a difficult goodbye.
Instead of folding up, Cooper put everything she had into the game and continued to fight – just as Jones taught her to do, everyday.
“It made me work harder because I knew he would want me to and every time I get frustrated I hear his voice telling me where to go on the field,” Cooper said. “I still repeat those things to my teammates just as if he was still here.”
Cooper started the season off right by throwing 11 strikeouts against Central Holmes Christian and remained consistent throughout this season including a 14 strikeout performance against Jackson Academy where the Lady Flashes won 9-0. She also threw 14 strikeouts against Madison-Ridgeland Academy.
Although Cooper is the one throwing the strikeouts, she also gives much credit to her catcher Maddy McSherry who is not letting any get past her.
“She cleans everything up for me. If I make a bad pitch, she would frame it and make it look better than it was,” Cooper said. “It’s not just me doing the work, because she’s a true hustler.”
Cooper has become a mastermind on the rubber and has easily made a name for herself as a pitcher, but most of all she has become a leader who has helped St. Al to their best season since 2015 under Head Coach Savannah Buck.
“Kyleigh has been such a force for us on the mound,” Buck said. “She keeps such great composure in tough situations and has been a great leader for her team both in the circle and in the box as well. I’m thankful to have a kid who works as hard as she does and this year has been really tough for her and her family but she’s stayed strong and pushed through. I believe she can do anything she puts her mind to and we are so lucky to have her with us.”
The Lady Flashes now have a 7-11 record as they are in the second half of the season but Cooper’s main focus is to get her squad into the playoffs.
“Although our team has gotten much better this year, our competition also got better so they fight just as hard as we do but our main goal is knockout these next few games and make the playoffs,” Cooper said.
Last season Cooper finished with 138 strikeouts and was named as VDN’s Softball Player of the Year. At her current rate, she will pass that 138 number by the end of the season. Her current batting average is .388.
The Lady Flashes will play against Central Hinds on Monday at 6:30 p.m.
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