Cooper throws no-hitter as Ladybirds crush Hunt | The Enterprise
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Cooper throws no-hitter as Ladybirds crush Hunt

Posted on April 4, 2021

SportsSchool Sports
Southern Nash's Alissa Bailey (6) rounds third base on her way to score one of her three runs during a 3-A Big East Conference game at Hunt on March 30. The Ladybirds won 18-0 in five innings. Awaiting the cutoff throw are Jasmine Hendricks (3) and Allison Moore (18).

Sheldon Vick | Special to The Enterprise

Southern Nash's Alissa Bailey (6) rounds third base on her way to score one of her three runs during a 3-A Big East Conference game at Hunt on March 30. The Ladybirds won 18-0 in five innings. Awaiting the cutoff throw are Jasmine Hendricks (3) and Allison Moore (18).

Southern Nash right-hander Kierstin Cooper threw her third career no-hitter March 30, striking out nine and walking two en route to an 18-0 victory in five innings. At the plate, Cooper had two hits and drove in five runs.

Sheldon Vick | Special to The Enterprise

Southern Nash right-hander Kierstin Cooper threw her third career no-hitter March 30, striking out nine and walking two en route to an 18-0 victory in five innings. At the plate, Cooper had two hits and drove in five runs.

Southern Nash's Alissa Bailey (6) rounds third base on her way to score one of her three runs during a 3-A Big East Conference game at Hunt on March 30. The Ladybirds won 18-0 in five innings. Awaiting the cutoff throw are Jasmine Hendricks (3) and Allison Moore (18).

Sheldon Vick | Special to The Enterprise

Southern Nash's Alissa Bailey (6) rounds third base on her way to score one of her three runs during a 3-A Big East Conference game at Hunt on March 30. The Ladybirds won 18-0 in five innings. Awaiting the cutoff throw are Jasmine Hendricks (3) and Allison Moore (18).

Southern Nash right-hander Kierstin Cooper threw her third career no-hitter March 30, striking out nine and walking two en route to an 18-0 victory in five innings. At the plate, Cooper had two hits and drove in five runs.

Sheldon Vick | Special to The Enterprise

Southern Nash right-hander Kierstin Cooper threw her third career no-hitter March 30, striking out nine and walking two en route to an 18-0 victory in five innings. At the plate, Cooper had two hits and drove in five runs.

jlewis@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7807 | Twitter: @JimmyLewisWT

WILSON — The pregame vibes surrounding the Southern Nash High varsity softball team couldn’t have been much worse leading into last week’s 3-A Big East Conference contest at Hunt.

For starters, the first bus the Ladybirds intended to take to Wilson would not crank. Once it arrived at Hunt on a second chariot, Southern Nash discovered that it left a bucket behind that contained its scorebook and lineup cards. Infield-outfield warmups were far from crisp for the Ladybirds, prompting the reigning 3-A Big East Conference champions to have a conversation behind the visiting dugout.

Whatever was said in that meeting snapped Southern Nash sharply back into focus.

Senior right-hander Kierstin Cooper threw her third career no-hitter and drove in five runs, while a pair of seven-run innings at the plate boosted the Ladybirds to their 22nd straight victory in Big East regular-season play with an 18-0 decision in five innings March 30.

The Ladybirds improved to 3-1 overall and stayed unbeaten in conference play through three outings. Hunt, coming off the outright insanity of a 24-22 loss at Rocky Mount the day before, fell to 1-2 — all in league play.

While Southern Nash head coach Scott Collie had the nuclear option at his disposal following a warmup that was “absolutely horrible,” experience told him not to utilize it.

“Just being older and understanding that’s not going to do anything but make the situation worse,” Collie said. “We’ve got five seniors that obviously we lean heavily upon, and I just told the girls, the younger girls, that they think I’m being really hard on them right now. I’m coaching this year’s team, but what I’m also doing is I’m coaching next year’s team. Because those five, when we come back here next year, they’re going to be outside the fence watching.”

However, don’t hand the Ladybirds elder quintet lawn chairs and concession items just yet.

Cooper struck out nine and walked two, allowing batters to reach in the first, third and fifth innings — the latter coming after plunking Hunt freshman April Mattox with an inside pitch. At the plate, the Barton College signee was 2 for 4, including a bases-clearing, three-run double in the second. She added a run-scoring single in the first and drew a bases-loaded walk in the third.

Cooper’s fellow Barton signee, senior Ricki Bartley, added a three-run triple in the third to highlight that seven-run outburst.

Sophomore McKenna Batten’s RBI infield single chased Hunt junior starter Madison Mercer after just 2 ⅓ innings of work.

Southern Nash produced 14 hits, with six errors compounding the Lady Warriors’ misery in the second and third innings. Eleven of the 16 runs plated by the Ladybirds were earned. Senior Alissa Bailey’s two-run single in the fourth capped the scoring.

“I think we did good,” Cooper said. “I think before the game, we were feeling kind of iffy and we just weren’t all here. Then, when we stepped on the field, we were like, ‘Let’s go, we’ve got to do this.’”

Hunt head coach Miguel Hall conceded the events of March 29 still weighed on the Lady Warriors following a marathon affair of three-and-a-half hours.

“I don’t know if they were depleted or feeling sorry for themselves or whatever, but it is what it is,” Hall said. “(Cooper) is a great pitcher, and she’s in that zone. We normally hit the ball, and hitting is not what I’m worried about. We just struggled tonight. We gave it our all with Rocky Mount, and I think the wind just left our sails.”

As for Cooper, she finds the 2021 season as her own in the circle following the graduation of Carrigan Ewers, a two-time Big East Pitcher of the Year.

“The thing I love about Kiersten is she wants the ball every single time,” Collie said. “It doesn’t matter who is on her team or who we’re playing, she wants the ball and she wants to be in the circle and I love that about her. The thing about her tonight, she got stronger and stronger as the game went on. She probably works harder off the field than anybody that we’ve had since I’ve been the coach. She’s a gamer.”

And as stewards of the program, Cooper, as one of Southern Nash’s five seniors, wants to pass on that championship feeling to the underclassmen — none of whom were part of the last Ladybirds Big East championship squad due to COVID-19.

“We’re extremely focused,” Cooper said. “We want the younger players to experience what we have. We want them to have that conference champions sweatshirt.”

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