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The word bittersweet is a favorite among high school seniors as they express their conflicting happiness of completing high school and sadness of saying good-bye to friends.
For seniors Courtney Moore and Rachel Cooper, though, Thursday was just plain sweet.
The Duncan duo completed a major goal for many high school athletes and wont have to worry about good-byes as they signed national letters of intent just minutes apart to play softball for Rose State college.
“We always had wanted to go to the same school,” Moore said.
“This just happened to be the one, I guess,” Cooper added.
The duo will quickly become a Duncan trio as they join back up with Ashlee Perkins, who will be going into her sophomore season as a pitcher for Rose State.
“When the coach was watching Ashlee the year before, she saw Courtney and Rachel,” said Duncan coach Robert Cowan. “Having a college-level player on your team can sometimes help get other girls noticed like that.”
But it was more than just coincidence that Rose State recruited more Duncan girls. In fact, Perkins may have played a role for both parties. Her strength as a player shined positively on girls that come from Duncan’s program, while having her on the team made the Raiders more appealing for Duncan players.
“Once you go into a small town, what I wanted to do is get out and see the kids that are kind of missed and we were lucky in getting Ashlee Perkins last year and that opened the door the door with coaches,” Rose State coach Nickie Williams said. “We came across Courtney and Rachel, and if I can keep coming back to the same schools and getting good players, I’ll keep doing it that way.”
Cooper and Moore are both coming off strong senior campaigns in which they helped lead the Lady Demons to the state tournament. Moore was the first to receive an offer from Rose State and gave a verbal commitment shortly there after. Once Cooper was offered a spot, the duo knew they would remain teammates.
What helped the two pick Rose State, they said, was location.
“It’s closer than a lot of the other schools and we both wanted to stay in state,” Moore said.
“We wanted to stay close to our families,” Cooper said.
While Cooper and Moore are friends, who will soon share high school and college alma maters, they are drastically different players on the field.
Cooper is a speedy slap-bunting center fielder, who stole 27 bases and batted .415 last season.
Moore is a power hitting, strong-armed shortstop, who belted eight home runs, 43 RBI and a .548 batting average.
“My philosophy with softball is to be very balanced and they bring the two opposite spectrums to that,” Williams said. “Courtney brings a lot of power and that’s definitely something that we need in our ballpark. Rachel, with that speed, is somebody you need in front of Courtney. She can get on, put the ball in play, and leave Courtney to bring her in.”
Moore and Cooper will give the Lady Demons six players on college rosters next season. They have had eight players sign softball scholarships in the past five years.
“When you are able to play at the level to reach the state tournament, I think that really helps the girls get recognized. And a lot of them play in the summer, and that’s where they really get their exposure,” Cowan said. “I have five seniors next year ... and they know that (a scholarship) is available if they perform. I think every year that you have another girl sign, it just keeps them believing and wanting to play.”