Morris Sussex Sports covers 40 schools’ sports teams that consists of about 14,000 athletes in Morris, Sussex and parts of Warren counties. Out of those 14,000 athletes, Morris Sussex Sports and Parisi Speed School honor just one athlete who does something special each week with the Parisi Speed School Player of the Week. Go to Parisi Speed School to raise your game and become faster, bigger and stronger. Mention “Morris Sussex Sports” and receive a FREE Speed Pass to one of their world class training sessions.
During this past week of the spring season there were a ton of fantastic performances in Morris-Sussex between lacrosse, softball, baseball, track and other sports. But the athlete we felt deserved the Parisi Speed School Player of the Week the most was Kittatinny softball player Alexis Cooke. Cooke came into the first game of the season on fire. In her opening debut as pitcher, she smoked a good North Warren team’s lineup with 20 strikeouts and a near perfect game if is wasn’t for a walk in the last inning with two-outs.
We caught up with the senior sensation to talk about her amazing performance, what frustrates her coach the most and who her role model is.
Morris Sussex Sports: Did you anticipate coming into the first game of the season and dominate for a 20-strikeout no-hitter?
Alexis Cooke: Definitely not. Going into the game, I knew North Warren was a good team based on my experience with them last year so I just went into the game with a mindset of doing the best I could for my team.
MSS: Were you bummed that you were one-allowed walk away from a perfect game?
AC: I was bummed that I almost had a perfect game but then allowed one walk–after 2 outs in the seventh inning. I ended up with a No Hitter, though, which was a lot of fun! Pitching a perfect game is a rare experience, so it was very exciting to get that close to achieving one of my goals.
MSS: Do you have a favorite pitch or set-up pitch?
AC: My favorite pitch is probably my riseball. I have a lot of fun throwing it and it has always been a go-to pitch for me.
MSS: You’re heading to play at Rensselaer next year, did you always want to play in college?
AC: Ever since I started pitching in elementary school, I always dreamed of playing softball in college. When I got to high school, I decided that I wanted to play at a college that would not only challenge me athletically, but academically as well. I decided to play at Rensselaer which is a perfect fit for me as a student and as a softball player.
MSS: What was your welcome to varsity softball moment?
AC: My welcome to varsity moment was my freshman year when I pitched against Jefferson. I was very nervous going up against them because I knew they were a good team, but I knew my coach had enough confidence in me to have me pitch so I decided to trust myself. I ended up performing very well and our team won that game. That was the moment that I first realized all my hard work was paying off.
MSS: Do you have any favorite athletic moments you look back on in your high school career?
AC: One of my favorite athletic moments is when I pitched against North Warren last year and the game lasted 10 innings. Kittatinny ended up winning the game by one run, and I broke a Kittatinny record with 23 strikeouts in a single game. That was probably my most proud moment as a Kittatinny athlete, both for the team and for myself.
MSS: Seems like Kittatinny has a knack for producing great athletes. Why do you think that is?
AC: Kittatinny has a very supportive community related to athletics. All of the teachers and administrators support our student-athletes and every coach works their players hard. There are very high expectations that the athletes have at Kittatinny which helps us all work hard in the classroom and on the field. There are many players in Kittatinny who put in extra practice time in order to help their teams succeed.
MSS: Who is your role model?
AC: My role model is my father. From the time he was young, he worked hard which lead him to be successful as an adult. As a student, he pushed himself to be the best he could be athletically and academically. All my life I have looked up to him and I admire him for what he has accomplished. He is my superhero and my number one cheerleader.
MSS: Who is the best athlete you faced during your high school career?
AC: The best athlete I faced during my high school career was Kelsey Oh who was a pitcher at Mount St. Dominic’s. She was a senior when I pitched against her as a sophomore. She was incredible and currently pitches at the University of South Carolina.
MSS: Who is the best softball player you played with on your team?
AC: The best softball player I have ever had on my high school team was Calli Van Gorden. She was a catcher when I was a freshman and not only was she an amazing softball player, she was also an incredible person. As a freshman, I admired her as she had so much determination and positivity toward the game. I looked up to her and challenged myself to become the type of player she was. Calli’s guidance and positive influence helped shape me into the pitcher I am today.
MSS: Do you have any pre-game rituals?
AC: I like to listen to music before games and I always eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before I pitch. 🙂
MSS: Do you have hidden talents outside of athletics?
AC: Yes, I am very good at water skiing. I slalom ski and I love waking up early when there is no one on the water to enjoy the peace and quiet on the lake and ski with my family.
MSS: What’s your favorite movie?
AC: My favorite movie is A League of Their Own.
AC: My favorite song to listen to before a game is probably Lose Yourself by Eminem.
MSS: Who on your team loosens up the vibe with humor?
AC: Nellie Choma loosens up the vibe with humor. When things start to get tense, she always has a joke or something funny to say which makes everyone laugh and makes things less stressful.
MSS: Who is the biggest diva?
AC: Abby Martin. Abby holds us all accountable as players and always encourages everyone on the team to work hard and become the best players they can be. She is there to support everyone and always cheers the girls on.
MSS: Who is the unsung hero?
AC: The unsung hero is Emily Wohlleber, my catcher. Though she is a freshman, without her behind the plate supporting me and the team, we would not be able to be as successful as we are.
MSS: What frustrates Coach Mate the most?
AC: I think the thing that frustrates Coach Mate the most is our music taste on the bus.
MSS: What’s the funniest thing she ever said?
AC: When we were practicing diving for catches, Coach Mate said, “Here, do it like me” and got in the line to receive a ball. She ended up almost face planting on the ground and ripped her sweatpants. Coach Mate then stood up and said very seriously, “Okay, don’t do it like me.”
MSS: What legacy do you want to leave at Kittatinny when it’s all over?
AC: I want to leave a lasting impression on Kittatinny softball. I want to be the pitcher that everyone says, “Remember when she played at Kittatinny?”. I hope to make a lasting impression that encourages new players to admire me for the work I put into softball and use that work ethic to push themselves to become better players. I also want players to recognize the importance of being a strong student-athlete.
MSS: What can we expect from the Cougars the rest of the way?
AC: Though we moved up to a more difficult conference this year which may result in some struggles to win games, I do not think that any team should take us lightly. We work hard in practice and really focus on the little things which I believe makes us into a strong team. We grow and get better after every experience and we want to win which makes us competitive.
MSS: Congrats again Alexis and good luck to you and your teammates for the rest of the season!
AC: Thank you for the amazing recognition!