Mikayla Cooper felt right at home in the lineup for the Ohio University softball team this spring and helped the Bobcats post a record season.
The 2014 Delaware Hayes High School graduate played shortstop regularly for the first time in college and continued to produce offensively as Ohio finished 42-18 overall to set the program record for wins, topping the previous mark of 39 set in 1995.
“I played every infield position except shortstop as a freshman and played third base as a sophomore, which was fine because I’m pretty versatile and want to produce wherever they need me,” Cooper said. “But it did feel great to move back to shortstop.”
Cooper was first-team all-conference for the Bobcats, who won the Mid-American Conference-East Division at 17-7 but had to settle for being runners-up in the MAC tournament after losing to Kent State 1-0 and 3-0 in the championship games.
Batting anywhere from leadoff to cleanup in the order, Cooper led the MAC in batting average (.438), doubles (12) and total bases (57). She tied for first in hits (32) and triples (2) and was second in on-base percentage (.528) and slugging percentage (.781).
“It was a great season and a fun season because we won the MAC regular-season title and set the program record for wins,” Cooper said. “It didn’t end as well as we hoped because we didn’t get an NCAA (tournament) berth when we didn’t win the MAC tournament.
“We did play in the National Invitational Softball Championship (tournament) and reached (the Region 6 final) but lost to Liberty 4-3. We beat them 1-0 in 12 innings to force the second championship game. That was my toughest loss in my three years here. We really wanted that one bad so we could go to the national finals.”
It was the first year for the event, which Liberty went on to win.
Overall, Cooper led the Bobcats in batting average (.330), on-base percentage (.420), doubles (17), walks (25) and total bases (90). She also had a .511 slugging percentage with five home runs, 26 runs scored and 26 RBI.
Cooper earned Division I all-state honors three times at Delaware, including being a first-team pick in 2013 and 2014. She was the OCC-Capital Division Player of the Year as a sophomore, junior and senior.
“Mikayla is a great teammate and friend who has pushed me,” said Bobcats third baseman Alex Day, a 2015 Hilliard Bradley graduate. “We’re super competitive and her drive to get better rubbed off on me this season.”
Entering her senior season, Cooper is tied for fifth in career home runs (22) at OU and will move into the top 10 in career RBI when she adds four more to her total of 78. She has a .312 career batting average.
“She’s such a good team leader and vocal leader,” Day said. “She’s always relaying our pitching signs to me and we’re in constant communication with every pitch and every batter.”
Having Day at third base not only solidified the left side of the infield when Cooper moved to shortstop, but added more punch to the offense.
Day, a left-handed batter, was second on the team in hitting (.314) and led the Bobcats in hits (63) and runs (43).
“We lose some pitching, but we’re going to be very good again next year because we have a lot of talent coming back,” Cooper said.
Cooper, who added a personal trainer for her summer workout routine, is co-coaching the Ohio Nightmare 16U travel softball team this summer. She’s majoring in recreation management and coaching education.
“I’m starting to see that coaching isn’t easy, although I love it,” she said. “You can’t go out and do it for them. The hard part is putting things together with the proper words to explain what you’re trying to teach them. I’m trying to verbalize what I mean and I sometimes struggle to find the particular words, but I’m super excited about it and having fun.”