She becomes program's first to gain first-team recognition at 3B
Photos by Courtney Weber
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Eastern Connecticut State University senior third baseman Arielle Cooper (Mystic) has become the first third baseman in program history to earn first-team All-America honors when she repeated national honors at that position by the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association (NFCA).
A second-team All-America selection at third base as a junior, Cooper becomes the program's first first-team All-America selection at third base in the program's 37-year history and is the first full-time position player to earn first-team honors since outfielder Leanne Shoop in 1990.
"Arielle has made her mark on Eastern softball -- one which she deserves -- and one which I believe makes her best third baseman ever at Eastern," noted 12th-year Eastern head coach Diana Pepin. "She is a tremendous athlete who was driven to be successful. She was a competitor, with the heart of a champion. Our program has been elevated because of her work ethic and passion for the sport," added Pepin of Cooper, who set numerous season and career records this season en route to first-team NFCA All-New England Region honors for the second straight season and 2013 Little East Conference Player-of-the-Year and Eastern Female Athlete-of-the-Year plaudits. "What Arielle has done this season in terms of hitting is unbelievable, and being regarded as one of the best in the country is truly an honor."
Batting primarily leadoff, Cooper put the finishing touches on a sterling career and brilliant final season. She led Eastern in virtually every offensive category, among them batting (.538), slugging (1.076), total bases (142), on-base percentage (.629), runs (61), hits (71), RBI (43), home runs (16), doubles (13), and walks (34). Her marks for batting, slugging, total bases, on-base percentage, runs, hits and home runs represented program season records, and her final season batting average was 99 points above her previous-season best, set in 2012.
After setting the current consecutive game hitting streak of 33 as a junior, Cooper hit safely in 26 games this year. After failing to hit safely in one game that stopped her 33-game streak in 2012, Cooper had a hit in each of the team's final four games that year and in the first 26 this year, giving her at least one hit in 63 of 64
games in that stretch.
Cooper finished as the program's all-time leader in career batting (.406) and slugging average (.739), on-base percentage (.474), hits (221), runs (176), doubles (40), home runs (40), and total bases (403), was second in games (177), at-bats (545), and assists (310), third in RBI (129), and fourth in walks (68). Her assist total is the highest among fulltime third baseman.
Through regional tournament competition, Cooper is ranked second nationally in Division III in on-base percentage, third in slugging, fourth in home runs, home runs per game and batting, sixth in runs per game and seventh in walks and toughest to strike out. Cooper fanned twice in 170 plate appearances this season.
The four-year starter appeared in all 177 games in her career, starting all 89 in each of her two All-America seasons and all but two in her career. She helped the team average 36.5 wins per game and compile an overall record of 146-30-1 (83.0 percent), qualify for three NCAA tournaments, win two regional titles and compete in two national tournaments, capture four Little East Conference regular-season (51-5 record) and three LEC tournament championships.