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Michigan Center High School athlete Bailey Cooper poses with the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 district trophy.  Courtesy photo

By Jeff Steers
JTV Sports

Michigan Center High School senior Bailey Cooper was fired up for her senior year of being on the mound for the Cardinals.

Hours of travel softball, fall leagues, and finding locations to pitch were going to pay off for Cooper.

But that all ended the first week in April when school was canceled in Michigan for the remainder of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic. A couple of days later, the Michigan High School Athletic Association followed suit and canceled the remainder of the winter tournaments and the spring sports season.

Cooper said she had hoped the season would start somewhat late, but never figured everything would be canceled.

But the soon-to-be graduate has taken everything in stride.

“I got plans for the future,” Cooper said on Tuesday. “It is disappointing that something crazy like this happened.

“I have got to move on … I have bigger things in life.”

Last year Cooper signed up to be in the United State Navy. She plans to head out in mid-July and plans to be an information technology specialist in the Navy.

“My dad was in the Army,” Cooper said. “I didn’t want to be on the front lines … more like something behind the scenes.”

But Cooper has not ruled out playing softball at some point in the future. She mentioned she would like to “walk onto a college team” after the Navy.

Cooper has been a pitcher – much to the chagrin of her mother – since age nine. She spent a number of years pitching on travel ball teams and two seasons at Northwest High School before following her brother to Michigan Center.

“I always wanted to be a catcher … the position my mother played,” Cooper said. “My father was a pitcher and my brother is a pitcher.”

Cooper spent a lot of hours practicing and playing for travel softball team. She tore her ACL as a freshman, but had the wherewithal to return for a solid sophomore season.

Last year for the Cardinals, Cooper earned all-state honors as voted on by the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association. She struck out 216 batters on the mound, hit .407, and collected 37 hits on the season.

Cooper earned all-conference, all-area, and all-regional honors for the Cardinals. She finished with an 18-5 record for MCHS last spring.

But while others may have been attending games and other social activities, Cooper was busy attempting to finish 1,500 hours to get her cosmetology license through the Jackson Area Career Center.

“I was only a month away from the requirement,” Cooper said. “I am not sure if we will receive our licenses.”

Cooper also maintained a 3.9 gpa on a 4.0 scale.

Despite only playing one sport, she enjoyed some of the values associated with being on a team.

“Sports helps you to build relationships and treat one another with respect,” Cooper said. “I will miss my teammates … but I am looking to the future.”

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