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Brian Tannehill Holtville pitcher Brooke Cooper (2) winds up to pitch versus Dale County at Lagoon Park in Montgomery, Ala., Friday May 17, 2019

For the second consecutive season, Holtville will have an upcoming senior represent its softball program at the North-South All-Star Game in Montgomery. After having a career year during her junior season, Brooke Cooper was invited to participate in the AHSAA event and she is embracing the magnitude of the moment.

“I’m honored to get this opportunity,” Cooper said. “I know it’s a big deal to get to play in the game. And to get out there and represent my school is just special to me.”

Last year, former Holtville pitcher KK Dismukes competed in the event and pitched three scoreless innings. Cooper said she talked to her former teammate about the experience and it built even more excitement.

“She was so excited for me,” Cooper said. “She told me how much fun it was for her and she said I would love it. She just told me to go out and be myself and just to have fun.”

Cooper hopes to represent the Bulldogs in the same way on a big stage but she said she may be looking forward to the experience of the whole week rather than just the game. With 30 of Alabama’s best softball players in the Class of 2020 coming together for one game, Cooper is looking to learn from them and build more relationships along the way.

“I’m excited about meeting some new people,” Cooper said. “I can be pretty shy, I’ll just put that out there. So I’m ready to make some more friendships and play with some new people.”

Cooper said she already knows two players on her team — Kaelyn Campbell of Prattville and Madison Hanson of PCA — and she thinks that will help make her more comfortable around the whole team. And while she said she was not nervous for the event, Cooper admitted it may be a little different without her normal teammates around her on the diamond.

“They have been my biggest support,” Cooper said. “The people around me have really helped me get there so I’m very thankful for all of them.”

Cooper played third base and pitched last year to help lead the Bulldogs back to the state tournament for the first time since 2012. She finished with a .423 batting average to go along with 15 doubles and 40 RBIs, all team highs for players returning for the 2020 season.

With the Bulldogs losing a big senior class last season, Cooper said she wants to take on more of a leadership role during her final year at Holtville. However, she knows she has the rest of her team at her back so she is not feeling any pressure to lead the Bulldogs back to Lagoon Park.

“I don’t think there’s really any extra pressure because of that,” Cooper said. “We have four other seniors and we’ll all help be leaders. We need to focus on the goals we have as a team so we can get back to the state tournament this year.”

Dealing with that pressure is nothing new to Cooper, who stood out for the Bulldogs all season. However, there may be a whole new type of pressure during next week’s game when Cooper takes the field in front of numerous college coaches at the state’s all-star event. Cooper still feels like she will not let her nerves get the best of her.

“I actually think I like it sometimes,” Cooper said. “But I also try not to think about those things too much. I don’t want to be overwhelmed while I’m playing so I just don’t think about it.”

Cooper admitted the whole experience may be a little more nerve-wracking for her if she had not committed to a college program already. She committed to Coastal Alabama during her junior season and she is glad it’s out of the way.

“I think it’s really good have that down already,” Cooper said. “That was one of my main goals when I got started playing softball. I wanted to be able to go play somewhere. So now I just have to work harder and push myself to get better to be ready for that.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.