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Award winner: Auburn's Kasey Cooper ready for SEC tourney
May 11, 2016

Auburn's Kasey Cooper: Excelling at the plate and in the classroom
Auburn's Kasey Cooper: Excelling at the plate and in the classroom

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. Kasey Cooper knew something was up when one of her old teammates texted her.

"Congratulations on Player of the Year, and, oh wait, Scholar-Athlete of the Year."

"What," Cooper wanted to know, "are you talking about?"

What her former teammate was talking about was the Auburn third baseman sweeping the SEC's top softball awards Tuesday when she was named Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year with one mighty swing. If the first phone call didn't convince her that was good, everything else on her phone surely did.

"My mom starting calling me and the texts starting flooding in," Cooper said. "I was just in shock because it's such a big honor, especially in the SEC. There are so many great players in this conference. I'm truly honored, and I'm so happy the coaches have pushed me to my limits. And all my teammates have pushed me to be do my best."

Cooper, Auburn's first softball Player of the Year, will help lead the Southeastern Conference Tournament defending champions into this season's tourney in Starkville on at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, when the Tigers will face Alabama, a 7-5 winner over Mississippi State in a first-round game Wednesday  Cooper will take these stats into the game: 19 homers, which is tied for the tops in the SEC; and league-best stats in slugging percentage, total bases and walks.

Oh, a 4.0 grade point average in mechanical engineering.

Cooper was asked which award was more meaningful to her: Player of the Year or Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She didn't hesitate.

"Scholar-athlete, just because my mom preached to me, when I was growing up, grades," Cooper said. "I came here on full tuition for academics, and got covered the rest for softball. It means a lot. It shows how much hard work is out of the classroom. Coach preaches greatness is a way of life, and greatness should be taken off the field as well as on the field. There's a reason it's called 'student-athlete.' It means a lot."

She and the Tigers can play softball, too. The Tigers beat Texas A&M on the last day of the regular season Sunday to snap a four-game losing streak. Auburn is 46-9 overall and was 16-7 in the SEC regular season. Cooper is looking to add to those numbers.

"That's what we worked on this week: Trusting our abilities and trusting our preparations," she said.

Auburn coach Clint Myers said the Tigers appear to be back on the right track.

"We've had some good practice days, and coming off the way we played Sunday, I think they understand what's at stake and they understand what they need to do," he said. "This is one last tune-up before we start playing for regionals. They know we need to do well in the tournament to maintain our Top 8 spot so we can host the Super Regionals. Right now, it's time to stop talking and go out and be Auburn. That's the key thing."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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