Mobile, Alabama – Kelsey Cooper thought back to her playing career when she transferred to Faulkner State in 2011, coming off a second team all-conference season at Northwest Florida the prior year.
‘‘I remember walking into fall workouts, the first day, you could feel the pressure,” Cooper said Friday. ‘‘I thought, well, I’m going to show them what I can do.’’
She rose to the occasion in 2011, playing in 52 games while tallying a .386 batting average and helping Faulkner State to the conference championship. To cap it off, she was named first team all-conference and all-region.
Cooper will face a similar pressure replacing Jen Petteys and hopes for a similar result. Petteys, who is the Head Coach at York College of Pennsylvania, has taken her program to the post season tournament every year since she took over. To add to the already lofty expectations, Cooper inherits the first overall pick in June 5th’s ASBA Draft. The first overall pick belongs to the E1 Pro Ballers, who are sponsored by the E1 Prospects, and hope to see their draft position catapult them from worst in 2018 to first in 2019.
The first pick in 2018 belonged to University of Texas at Arlington’s Assistant Coach, Bobby Buchanan, who leveraged his draft position to gather 10 All-Stars and 7 All-ASBA players while leading his Moh-BEEL! USA team to a first place finish.
‘‘I expect to be playing for an ASBA Championship Ring in July. I think that’s everyone’s expectation,’’ Cooper said.
Cooper has been a head coach at the High School level for the past six years, three at Sumter Academy in Livingston and three at Citronelle High School. Plus, she is a native of Mobile, Alabama. The hard-nosed catcher transitioned to second base at The University of West Alabama after her two all-conference Junior College seasons.
“I don’t think you can ever replace a figure like Petteys or Buchanan because they are unique in their own way. What I’m going to do is I’m going to be myself,” Cooper said. ‘‘And yes, are there expectations on me and the players? Absolutely. I don’t necessarily worry about replacing someone or how I’m going to replace someone. I’m more worried about just being myself and getting the most out of the team.”
ASBA’s CEO Michael Chiaradio was impressed by Cooper’s accountability and discipline.
“She understands what it means to compete,” Chiaradio said. “We believe she’s mentally tough and that’s important because this is the hardest league in the world to win games in.”
Once Chiaradio was informed that Petteys would not be available due to her daughter’s ascension to the National Luge Team, he immediately thought of Cooper as a fitting candidate to fill the coaching position.
“I think Kelsey is a good softball person and I’m sure she will be a great coach for the ASBA,” Chiaradio said.
The 2019 ASBA Draft will be held on Wednesday, June 5 at 4 pm CT at Moe’s Original BBQ, 701 Spring Hill Avenue in Mobile. The ASBA is a women’s professional softball league based in Satsuma, AL an immediate suburb of Mobile. All games are played at Satsuma High School and can be followed live on ASBA Network. The league is in its second year and offers various sponsorship opportunities for local businesses and restaurants.
Follow the ASBA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @asbasoftball and visit asbasoftball.com for more information.