Brenden Cooper came into the 2019 baseball season looking to do big things at the plate and in the field for the Francis Howell Central Spartans, and so far, Cooper has been the main man for the team.
Cooper, a senior lefthander that swings the bat right-handed, has started off red-hot at the plate as he enters this week hitting a robust .688 with five RBIs and six runs scored after six games, helping the Spartans get off to a sturdy 4-2 start.“It’s been awesome to get off to this start,” Cooper said. “Of course you get the jokes from the players and stuff but it’s definitely been fun and a lot more enjoyable for me to find that passion for playing the game, like when you were little kid and you push away from it a bit and then one good season just brings it all back for you.”
Having a presence like Cooper in the lineup has been a welcome option for Howell Central Coach Ray Howard the past four seasons.
Howard said that Cooper is not just the best hitter on the team, but that he’s definitely the leader of the group both on and off the field.
“He’s one of the first guys that will jump out and say we need to pick up tarps, pick up balls, and you don’t even have to tell him, he does that kind of stuff,” Howard said. “That’s just kind of how he is, sometimes the kids will make fun of him and call him “Captain Coop” but he is a leader and they know it.”
Strong discipline at the plate is what helps Cooper be such a tough out for opposing pitchers as well.
“He’s got good hand-eye coordination, discipline, and he hits where the ball is pitched without trying to do too much with it,” Howard said. “He’s got confidence and he’s put in the work in the weight room and on the field, so that’s what you’re seeing now.”
Cooper credits his great start this spring to his teammates being able to consistently get on base ahead of him and give him opportunities to drive in runs and move runners into scoring position.
“It’s a lot of the team because we have really good team chemistry this year since we’ve all been playing together since freshman year when we went 19-1,” Cooper said. “Early in games. they have been putting me in good situations where I can just relax and out singles where I need to score runs early in the game for the team.”
Defense and versatility are strong suits for Cooper as well. He has been steady in the outfield, plays first base and has pitched four scoreless innings on the mound for the Spartans.
“He runs balls down (in the outfield), and he throws the ball well from the outfield, and we’ve got him pitching a little bit and when he’s not pitching he will play first, so he’s pretty versatile.”
College is in the future for Cooper. He will head to Missouri S&T in Rolla this fall to major in mechanical engineering and play baseball there as well.
“I definitely feel comfortable and feel like I’m ready to get up in college and start competing,” Cooper said.
Before that chapter arrives, Cooper would like to get a couple more goals accomplished in his final season at Howell Central.
“I’m starting off strong, so I really want to keep an average above .600 this year and I feel like that’s definitely doable the way I’ve started off,” Cooper said. “I definitely want to finish this season out strong and help the team get somewhere and do some good things this year.”