STARKVILLE, Miss. - After driving in 17 teammates in 19 at-bats and hitting five tape-measure home runs in six games, Mississippi State junior outfielder Jessica Cooley was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week, the league announced Monday. The Birmingham, Ala., native is the first Bulldog to earn the honor since All-American Chelsea Bramlett picked up the nod on March 1, 2010.
"I am humbled and grateful for this honor, but the award is more of a reflection of my coaches and teammates," Cooley said. "My coaches definitely helped me develop a plan for every at-bat this week so that I could get the pitches that I wanted. My RBIs and runs this week were just a product of my teammates getting on base in front of me and having great at-bats once I got on."
Number two arguably had the best single week by any player in school history, going 10-for-19 with a whopping 17 RBIs and eight runs during the six-game winning streak. After entering this past week with five home runs in her previous 108 career games, the 5-foot-7 inch righty totaled five long balls in five days during MSU's longest winning streak since February of 2009. The 1.316 slugging percentage helped Starkville's team break the school record with five-consecutive run-rule victories.
This past week started on the road against 2011 NCAA Tournament team Jackson State, where Cooley finished a perfect 2-for-2 with the bases loaded and ended the day with a career-high five driven in. The five-RBI performance led MSU to its first run-rule victory of the season (11-2).
In MSU's opening game at the Bulldog Classic Friday vs. Columbia, Cooley went 1-for-2 with two runs, a walk and a home run. The round-tripper sailed over the scoreboard and trees in left and landed on Highway 182. Following the game, the shot was measured at 299 feet.
The next day vs. Columbia, the left fielder pounded out a career-high two home runs and finished with a career-best three hits. In the second game of MSU's doubleheader Saturday vs. Eastern Illinois, she dialed long distance again for her third home run of the day. Cooley's 2-for-3 performance with two RBIs vs. the Panthers helped Mississippi State set the school record for consecutive wins via the run-rule (5).
Just when it looked like she could not top herself, the former Oak Mountain High star returned to the Dawg Diamond Sunday and launched her first-career grand slam to provide the game-winning RBI and run against Samford. Cooley finished Sunday's victory 2-for-3 with a career-high tying five RBIs.
Bulldog fans watch their reigning SEC Player of the Week Wednesday at 4 p.m., as Mississippi State hosts No. 3/3 Florida in the league opener for both teams. The doubleheader showdown pits the two home run leaders in the SEC in Cooley and UF's Kelsey Horton. Admission is free to the contest, while live stats will be available at HailState.com. For more information on Cooley and the Maroon and White, follow the softball program on Twitter at @MStateSB and on Facebook at Facebook.com/MStateSB.
Mississippi State's SEC Softball Players
of the Week
March 5, 2012 - Jessica Cooley
March 1, 2010 - Chelsea Bramlett*^
March 30, 2009 - Ali Bainbridge
February 11, 2008 - Chelsea Bramlett*^
April 24, 2007 - Sammie Jo Bailey
February 7, 2005 - Courtney Bures*^
April 12, 2004 - Kate Jaspers^
February 23, 2004 - Iyhia McMichael*^
March 31, 2003 - Iyhia McMichael*^
May 6, 2002 - Kellie Wilkerson*^
March 26, 2001 - Iyhia McMichael^
April 3, 2000 - Keri McCallum*^
March 13, 2000 - Karrie Rider^
February 21, 2000 - Kellie Wilkerson*^
March 9, 1999 - Keri McCallum^
March 31, 1998 - Michelle Gates^
* Earned All-American Honors That Season
^ Earned All-SEC Honors That Season