UNIVERSITY PARK - With a twirl of the bat, a line drawn in the dirt and one mammoth shot at Beard Field at Penn State, Vanessa Cooper made a big statement.
Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games.
Simply put, Vanessa Cooper was a big-time player yesterday.
The Lady Raiders of Bellefonte show off their District VI?Class AAA?title after an 8-1 victory over Huntingdon
The Bellefonte sophomore planted a 2-2 fastball off Huntingdon's Morgan Glover quickly over the left-field fence and off the scoreboard in the second inning.
"It was one of the hardest balls I've ever hit," she said. "It felt good coming off the bat. She put the ball in my zone and I made it hurt."
She wasn't finished.
After the Lady Raiders hit around, she stepped again and, this time, smashed a 0-1 offering sailing over the center fielder's head, this time good for a three-run shot.
Cooper led the way for Bellefonte in their 8-1 victory over Huntingdon in the District VI Class AAA championship yesterday at Penn State.
"It is wonderful," Bellefonte coach Gregg Kohlhepp said. "She did a nice job working hard on middle-ball work during practice. She found her pitch and hit hard. She has the power to take it over the wall. If we were at our fields, those would have been doubles, but with a fence - we were happy to let her swing away."
The Lady Raiders racked up all the eight runs in the second inning and used a solid defensive performance to pick up their ninth district title in 10 years.
"We are thrilled to come away with the championship," Kohlhepp said. "We battled through some things out there today and it was a great team victory. It was a tough 8-1 win. Give Huntingdon credit, they played a great game. They battled. The score isn't indicative of how close this game truly was."
Following Cooper's opening home run, Erica DeVinney and Chrissy Tressler hit back-to-back singles. After a Carly Chambers walk, Amber Watson laced a two-run double into left field, plating DeVinney and Tressler and giving Bellefonte a quic,k 3-0 lead.
"That (two-run double) was fantastic," Kohlhepp said. "Amber does her job and flies under the radar. She came up clutch today. She steps up in big situations for the team. She has been solid all year and to see her bat come alive was nice. She gave us a jump start. A 1-0 lead is nice, but those next two runs made it a lot easier."
The Lady Raider rout continued when Hannah Cooper sent a hot-shot up the middle that the fielder couldn't handle, plating home Chambers. Jillian Musser reached by way of a walk and Jessica Gmerek sacrificed Watson home.
With two on - courtesy runner Alicia Allen (for Hannah Cooper) and Musser, Vanessa Cooper went back to work and popped her second home run of the inning - this time a three-run blast to give Bellefonte an 8-0 lead.
With the early lead, Bellefonte's pitching ace Hannah Cooper went to work through the Lady Bearcat lineup, surrendering only one unearned run on two hits while fanning four and issuing two walks.
"It was a nice experience being in the circle," the senior said. "There were a lot of new emotions, especially in a big game like this. I am glad my defense was there to pick me up when I didn't hit my spots."
The Lady Bearcats threatened in the fourth after a fielding error and the two walks loaded the bases. Glover knocked in a run on a fielder's choice to score their lone run of the game.
"We have been resilient all year," Huntingdon coach Chris Patrick said. "We have fought through some tough games before. The girls could have very easily folded and this game could have been done in four or five innings. But they didn't. They stayed and battled with a great team. We knew the first couple of inning would set the tone for the game. It is tough to give Bellefonte any kind of lead. They are such a good team and they proved that today."
With the exception of the second inning, Glover threw a great game. She gave up all of her runs and hits in that frame. In fact, only one other baserunner reached - a walk in the fifth inning.
Bellefonte will get the winner of the District III consolation finals.
District VI Class AAA Championship
at Beard Field, Penn State
BELLEFONTE 8, HUNTINGDON 1
H 000 100 0 - 1 2 1
B 080 000 X - 8 6 1
H: Morgan Glover and Brionna Mort. B: Hannah Cooper and Vanessa Cooper. WP - H. Cooper. LP -Glover. HR: B, V. Cooper (2). 2B: B, Amber Watson. MH: B, V. Cooper, Watson. Record: B 18-4.