Patience was definitely a great virtue for McDowell Lady Titans pitcher and outfielder Candace Cooper.
After holding out until the end of the spring signing period, the McDowell senior finally locked up her college plans, signing with UNC-Wilmington.
Cooper officially signed her letter of intent earlier this week, and for the three-year varsity softball player and multi-sport athlete, the drying of ink puts closure on what has been a long journey. She picked UNC-Wilmington late in the spring over some other options closer to home.
Cooper’s love of the Wilmington campus helped her make a decision.
“This has been a long process for me, considering how long I have been involved with the sport,” said Cooper. “But I feel that UNC-Wilmington is a great fit for me. I like the campus and what it can offer me. Plus, I love the outdoors and proximity to the coast so I felt it was hard to turn down.”
Cooper finished with two Div. I offers, as Furman joined in the mix along with other smaller programs.
The Seahawks will be acquiring a talent that has produced both at the plate and on the mound.
Cooper led McDowell in hitting (.432) and walks (12), while batting in the bottom half of the Lady Titans’ batting order. Cooper finished with an outstanding .576 on-base percentage, which also led the team among starters. She had one home run and seven extra-base hits.
On the mound, she tossed a team-high 69 2/3 innings, striking out 49 batters and walking 13, which computes to be a near 5 ½-to-1 ratio of walks per innings pitched. Cooper expects to turn her focus more to the pitching side of things once she enters the program in the fall.
Cooper holds a 4.43 grade point average and has already gained college credits ultimately perusing a degree in speech pathology.
UNC-Wilmington finished with a 26-28 mark this season, finishing sixth in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).
Cooper is the second McDowell player from the 2019 class to sign with a Div. I program. Dezi Williams inked with USC-Upstate last fall. Three other McDowell players, Laynie Hudgins (Lees McRae), Nicole Gallion (Greensboro) and Emma Banks (Emory & Henry), have also made choices to play in college.