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Lady Rams ends regular season with 19-5 Senior Day Win Over Shaw
SHiClM. TO THE CMfcONKXE
The Winstoo-Salem State Lady Rams (20-20, 13-3
CIAA) closed out the 2015 regular season in style when
they took a dominating 19-3 win over the Shaw Lady
Bean (7-23, 6-10 CIAA). Sunday afternoon. The Lady
Rams took the win behind a solid overall effort with some
great play on both sides of the ball.
As a team, the Lady Rams finished the game with 17
total hits and turned them into 19 runs for the win with
only one fielding error. WSSU sophomore Mercedes
Hargett had her second stellar batting effort with a two
for-two batting effort with a grand slam home run, a dou
ble. two runs scored, and four RBI in the game.
Sophomore pitcher Katherine Zitnmer added a three-for
four effort with three runs scored. Freshman outfielder
Anna Marino was three-for-four with three RBI and three
The Lady Rams jumped out early and never looked
back as they scored at leak five runs scored in three of the
four innings that the team batted in. After allowing a first
inning run to the Bears, the Lady Rants took control of the
game early when Hargett hit her second grand slam home
ran of the day to put the team on top, 4-0.
Senior infieider Katrina Bartlett added a score when
she took advantage of the Shaw passed ball to leave the
Lady Rams on top, 5-1 after the first inning. The Lady
Rams returned in the second inning when Bartlett hit a
two-RBI double that scored Zimmer and Hargett. A
WSSU double steal later in the inning .allowed Marino to
score as well. Freshman catcher Melissa Carillo drove in
Marino on an RBI single later in the inning. Sophomore
infieider Jada Johnson returned the favor when she hit an
RBI single to score Marino. Senior infieider Monet Daly
closed out the scoring in the inning when she hit a sacri
fice fly that scared Johnson. In the third inning, the Lady
Rams added three tuns when sophomore Danyelle
Beamon hit an RBI groundout that scored sophomore out
fielder Chyna Riley
Zimmer scored once again on a Shaw passed ball later
in the inning as well. Marino in turn closed the scoring in
the inning when she scored on a Shaw fielding error. The
Lady Rams closed out their scoring efforts in the fourth
inning when Marino hit a three RBI double which was fol
lowed by another Marino score on a Shaw wild pitch.
Daly showed up once again when she hit an RBI single up
the middle to score Carilk). From there, the Lady Rams
closed out the win with just four fifth-inning runs allowed
to the Bears to end the game.
Zimmer (4-0) took the pitching victory when she went
all five innings with six hits allowed, including allowing
just one through the first four innings. She allowed just
five runs (four earned) and added four strikeouts with two
With the win, the Lady Rams improve to 20-20 overall
and 13-3 in Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association
(CLAA) play. The team has completed the regular season
and will take part in the 2015 CIAA Softball
Championship Tournament later this week.
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ercd clutch performances for the Lady Rams over the final
weeks. Over that 10-game stretch, Riley hit 562 (18-of-32)
and had 5 RBls. Riley also turned in solid stints as a pitcher,
winning four games in five appearances.
Mercedes Hargett, the CIAA's top strike-out pitcher (119),
put on power hitting display in Winston-Salem State's season
ending double header victory (14-1, 19-5) against Shaw
University last Sunday. Hargett, who inflicted considerable
damage in her four trips to the plate, blasted two home runs
(which included a grand slam) and had nine runs batted in.
Aside from Riley and Hargett. Kat Zimmer (362 batting
average. 26 RBls) has emerged as an offensive threat. Katrina
Bartlett leads the team in hitting (.439) and anchors the infield
"Hopefully, we've arrived at our turning point," said Coach
LaTaya Hilhard-Gray "At this time of year, we don't have a
record. The conference tournament is about to begin and we're
0-0. The opportunity is there for us play up to our potential."
Such was the case in the Lady Rams' lone loss during the
iate-season win streak. In a 7-2 defeat to St. Augustine's on
April 24, a slew of fielding errors and base-running mistakes
set the tone for Winston-Salem State s downfall. Gray is keenly
aware that her team must avoid mental lapses in order advance
in postseason play.
"The key for us is to play with a high level of consistency
at the plate and in the field. During the season, there have been
instances where we've have one bad inning and that bad inning
changes the entire complexion of the game. But I'm encour
aged by how well we've played lately," Gray said.
? Photo by Craig T Grceake
WSSV's Katrina Bartlttt (6) awaits the umpire's call after tagging Jasmine Rios of St. Augustine's
during CIAA softball action last Friday.
from page VI
lime (in North Carolina) and I was named MVP. Looking
back on my whole high school career, that's something I'll
always remember. It was just amazing."
Over the past three seasons. Williams has bloomed as
one of the most versatile high school track athletes in the
state. During that span, she's placed among the top eight
in both hurdle events at state meets (indoors and out
doors). Williams is equally formidable as a key cog in the
sprint relays. Since her sophomore year. Parkland has
reigned as a two-time national champion in the 4x200
(indoors and outdoors) and three-time state champ in the
"Ebony has broken every hurdles record at Parkland
and she's played a huge part in helping our relay teams
win championships," said Coach Antwan Hughes. "Not
only is she a great leader, but she's an outstanding role
model, athletically and academically. All the girls, espe
cially the younger ones, look up to her. Ebony has done a
Williams will end her high school career as one of the
Triad's most accomplished track athletes in recent history.
Even though she's won championships and has a college
scholarship to run track at Clemson University, staying
hungry and motivated has never been an issue.
"My team keeps me motivated," she said. "We don't
run in a lot of meets in Winston-Salem. But when we do
compete in local meets like our conference champi
onships, we want to leave no doubt that this (Central
Piedmont) is our conference."
In recent years, the dominance of Parkland's girls in
track and field is undeniable. Compared to their counter
parts, the Mustangs have proven to be head-and-shoulders
above the rest of the pack. As a result, expectations are
sky-high, but that doesn't mean that Williams and her
teammates take winning for granted.
"People look at us and say that we're so good and we
make things look so easy," she said. "But it's what we do
in practice that makes all the difference. We train like ani
mals. Coach Hughes runs us so hard and so much, that
when it comes to competing in a meet, it's a breeze. That's
how we're able to keep running faster and keep setting
The curtain ^^MaM_M||fla|BaaaaiaaH|HaaHM_a_
is getting ready
to close on the
iors who will
also run track in
(U 11T Ml Ui
"What I'll miss most is the team bond, the chemistry,"
said Williams. "I've run with the same group of girls since
the age of 13. We've all known each other for the longest
(time). Since I'm going to a different state for college, 1
won't get to see everybody. I'll see some of them, but
they'll be running for another school. So, it's not like we'll
be able to catch-up with each other like we did when all of
us were in Winston-Salem."
roow try uag I ureenJee
Ebony Williams (middle) is the Class 4-A state indoor record holder in the 55-meter hurdles.
from page B!
admits that his forehand needs work. In
assessing his overall game. Cooper isn't
satisfied with his serve, which he
described as "very good at times and not so
good at other times ."
In a one-on-one interview, Cooper
talked to Sports Week about his return to
SW: What's your comeback season
Cooper: Overall, it's been good. I've
had my rusty spots and have gone through
some rough patches. But it hasn't been too
much of a handicap for me I knew I
wasn't going to be like I was when I was
13, when I was hitting all the time. Back
then, I was a pretty solid player.
SW: What did you most want to
accomplish this spring?
Cooper: I was hoping to take people
by surprise. I wanted people to wonder
about who I am and where I came from.
That's pretty much the reaction I got from
everyone, so things turned out just like I
hoped it would. Not too many people at
Reynolds knew that I played tennis. When
I showed up for try-outs, people thought I
was joking . After I hit a few balls, they saw
that I was serious.
SW: What caused you to want to play
competitive tennis again?
Cooper: When I got that invitation to
coach at Young Folks last summer, it got
me to thinking about making a comeback.
I went out and coached and got that rac
quet in my hand. From that point on, it was
pretty much of a wrap. That same summer,
I played against a good friend of mine,
Wesley Moses, who tried to convince me
two years earlier that I should concentrate
on playing tennis instead of being a runner.
When I played against Wesley, I found
out that I wasn't nearly as bad as I thought
I'd be. Since I had taken off for two-and
half years, I didn't think I'd be able to play.
As things turned out, I still had the ability
to hit all the strokes and play the game. All
I needed was some tweaking here and
there, some oil for the rust.
SW: Why did you quit playing?
Cooper: When it comes to tennis, one
of my weaknesses had been my mentality.
I get down on myself pretty easily. If I
messed up one time, I would yell at myself
and I had a bad habit of slapping my leg
really hard and it would leave a mark.
The summer before my eighth-grade
year, I wasn't hitting the ball very well. I
would come to practice with the mindset
that I would hit awful. That destroyed me.
I came home crying after one practice and
decided that I didn't want to have anything
to do with tennis any more. For a few
months after that I was really relieved that
I was no longer playing the game.
SW: Ever think about what it would be
like if you hadn't quit?
Cooper: I think about it a lot. The year
before I stopped playing, I was ranked
18th in the state for 12-year-olds. So. I do
wonder how much farther along I would be
at this point because I'm bigger and
stronger and definitely smarter.
SW: If you had it to do all over again,
would you change anything?
Cooper: I wouldn't have taken those
two-and-half years off. It's unfortunate
that I let a few bad months mess me up in
the head. But that happens. I'm not the first
person who has suffered burnout from the
sport. Other than that, I did everything the
way I should have. I had fun with it and
met a lot people. Playing tennis has been a
great experience for me.
SW: Looking back on what happened,
do you feel you learned any lessons?
Cooper: I learned that I needed to stop
being so hard-headed. There were a lot of
people who were very skeptical about me
quitting. I didn't want to be wrong, so I just
stayed out. If I had just gotten over my
pride, and accepted the fact that I was
wrong, I believe it would've been very
helpful. Now I see it. I'm less hard-headed
and more open to things. It helped develop
SW: Are you interested in playing col
Cooper: No, and that's because col
lege sports requires a lot more commit
ment. Running high school cross-country
? ? A '
a u u
c o n -
a lot of
t h e
commitment (to play tennis) would be far
more than it would be for high school.
1 just can't see myself wanting to stress
over school and tennis wheh the (academ
ic) workload is going to be enough. Plus, I
want leave room for other extracurricular
activities in college. There are other things
I want to experience. I've had my time to
experience competitive sports.
SW: What keeps you motivated to
achieve as an athlete and as a person?
Cooper: I'm naturally self-motivated.
I get a lot of that from my father (Sam
Cooper), who comes from a family of
farmers in Hemingway, South Carolina.
Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, he
and the family have been through a lot and
they've seen it all and they've persevered.
He's worked very hard for a very long
time. One of the things that I really admire
about him is that he never lets anything
Aaron Cooper has rekindled his passion for the game he learned to"pla\
at the age of 5. ^