San Antonio – The Rattlers’ four-game winning streak came to a halt after a rough five games last week, but it still had Kelly Cooper shining through the losses.
Cooper’s (Sr., San Antonio) standout performance to defeat cross-town rival Incarnate Word came at the tail end of St. Mary’s (8-15) five-game road trip over the course of the past two weeks. A three-day stint in Lawton, Okla., turned two shutouts in the favor of Oklahoma Christian University and Cameron University, as the Rattlers fell 9-0 in each.
St. Mary’s began to regain its pace in the final day of its trip but fell 6-3 to Tarleton State. Tarleton was where Cooper started to charge, picking up a win with teammate Elisha Bryant (Jr., Plano, Texas), 8-2, in their doubles competition that would prep her for a big win over a noted Cardinal.
Incarnate Word’s Casey Bulls is one of its top players but proved to be no match for St. Mary’s Cooper this past Friday. She dominated the match with a 6-3 first-set win, only to shut her down 6-0 in the final set. Cooper’s victory was the only Rattler point for singles, and she continued to run with it in her doubles competition. The duo of Cooper and Bryant again teamed up for doubles and again came out with a victory in a tight 9-7 win, meaning Cooper had a hand in all of St. Mary’s points in the 7-2 loss.
Ending their five-game road trip Saturday, the Rattlers faced Central Oklahoma, falling 7-2. This time, St. Mary’s points went to Cooper’s partner Bryant in singles. Bryant served her way to a 7-5, 6-4 victory, while freshman Denissia Gonzalez (Houston) picked up the final Rattler point. Gonzalez went the distance but came out ahead in the fight for a 1-6, 7-5, 10-2 three-set win.
The Rattlers’ busy two weeks marked their last regular-season matches, as it is now all-or-nothing heading into the Heartland Conference Tournament.
St. Mary’s will have a run at the conference championship Friday in Austin, Texas.