Genoa’s Cooper heading to Defiance, Davis to Trine

J. Patrick Eaken

Genoa softball was a favorite to win the Northern Buckeye Conference this year, so it was disappointing for the Comets to see the season canceled.
There is a consolation for two Genoa seniors who will go on to play college sports — Natalee Cooper will play softball at Defiance College and Megan Davis will play soccer at Trine University in Angola, Indiana. However, both already knew how good their softball team could have been this year.
“Definitely, it hurts. This was going to be a good year,” Davis said. “We were set up for success this year. We had a good team and we were definitely a family — we were connected this year and would have had a good run if the season were held.”
Coach Michael Burriola said the canceled season had an impact on the entire program
“The loss of the season not only affected the seniors but underclassmen as well, especially the junior varsity members who fall behind from gaining experience from playing in games. This year’s team with these seniors were expected to do big things, and the disappointment of never knowing what could have been is frustrating and sad.
“Our team was well rounded and ever since our last loss to Elmwood last year, we were all planning  to come back with tenacity and not only completing to having a great and memorable year but finishing what these seniors started back freshman year.” 
Burriola said Cooper and Davis would have been one of the reasons 2020 could have been a special season.
“Both would have played a big role for Genoa softball,” Burriola said. “Natalee Cooper was the captain and her leadership helped turn a 9-13 team (2018) to an 18-8 (2019) team. Natalee would have broken her home run record this year which she set with eight last year. She was looking forward to this year before the pandemic.
“Megan Davis played softball all four years. She has a soccer scholarship to Trine, however, she could have easily received an offer this year (for softball) with her improvement as an outfielder and could have been one of the best hitters in the NBC this year. Her speed was outstanding, and she was a silent leader with her hustle and determination.”
Last year along with her home runs, Cooper batted .414 (36 for 87) with five doubles, 36 RBIs, 14 runs, 11 walks, a .480 on-base percentage and .713 slugging percentage and was the team’s catcher. Davis batted .350 (21 for 60) with five doubles, one triple, 10 RBIs, 23 runs, four walks, a .412 OBP and .467 slugging percentage.
They were not the only big-time senior contributors — there were two returning Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press second team selections in first baseman Amanda Partin and second baseman Caitlin Gose. Davis and Cooper were honorable mention All-Press, and they were joined by HM All-Press shortstop Kendall Gerke and senior Brooke Buehler..
Gose, Gerke, and Partin all had good enough numbers as juniors to draw college recruiters’ attention. Gose batted .392 (29 for 74) with eight doubles, two triples, two homers, 23 RBIs, 21 runs, 10 walks, a .464 OBP and .635 slugging. Gerke batted .375 (33 for 88) with eight doubles, two triples, three homers, 24 RBIs, 36 runs, 14 walks, .476 OBP and .602 slugging. Partin batted .359 (23 for 64) with seven doubles, one homer, 15 RBIs, 15 runs, 10 walks, a .434 OBP and .516 slugging.
Burriola says Gose is a “total team player, home run hitter and an inspirational player on the team” who switched positions from second to third base.
The coach says Partin, who last year switched from outfield to first base “and played it flawlessly, hit for averaged and played for fun — very well respected.”
Burriola called Gerke “the ‘Lou Gehrig’ of our team who played every inning and every at bat last year. Kendall hit consistently, hit above average and has an abundance of power. She played a great shortstop and her intensity sets her apart.”
Burriola added that Buehler was going to get her first full year with the varsity.
 “Brooke Buehler, numbers were low on the varsity level,” Burriola said. “Brooke came on as a utility player , she would have help us immensely with her left-handed bat and her slap capabilities and was planning playing second base and outfield which she would have played extremely well.”
Cooper has high praise for all her senior teammates.
“Megan was an absolute blast to be around. She was definitely a goofball and she was a leader in her actions, and she always brought a smile on everyone’s face,” Cooper said. “Kendall Gerke and I were the only four-year lettermen, so starting our freshman year we were always together so it kind of sucks not being able to play with her again. She is an amazing leader and an amazing athlete, so I was really excited to able to play with her.”
Hanging jerseys downtown
Since the season was canceled, Cooper did a couple things about it. She prepared for a possible summer season and she went to downtown Genoa and did some decorating.
“I was able to hang up all the senior jerseys for spring sports in windows down Main Street and that was kind of fun to be able to do that,” Cooper said.
“It was definitely tough because I was looking forward to this year. I loved being able to be a leader, so I definitely I wanted to be able to do that and lead the team, but it’s just a different way to lead the team now,” Cooper continued.
“I know they are already talking about doing some summer league stuff, and I’m talking to our JV coach who normally coaches at that time, and I’ve been talking to him about helping and being a coach then. One of the girls, we were going to have a freshman (varsity starter) this year, and all throughout the summer I’ll be working with her.”
Her senior teammates were pleased to see their jerseys dotting the downtown landscape.
“That was kind of a surprise to us, almost. Natalee had texted us and asked for our jerseys, and was like, ‘OK,’” Davis said.
For Cooper, it just took one visit to Defiance to get her attention, and her parents’ attention.
“When I was looking for colleges I was going to campuses for softball, and when I went there, my parents were really excited about it because it was a good distance away so I could still be away but they could still come to games, and I could still see them all the time,” Cooper said.
“The coaches I absolutely loved. The head coach there I’m very familiar to and I just got along with the team really well. Ever since then, I go to other places and it just wasn’t the same.”
Davis was part of a Genoa soccer team that went 9-4-4 last year, including two losses to 20-1 and state-ranked Eastwood. She had 26 points on 11 goals and six assists and was a first team All-Press center midfielder. The second loss to Eastwood was 7-2, but the first was 3-2.
“We made a good run. Eastwood had us, for sure. Our first game against them we gave them a run for their money, for sure,” Davis said.
She said it is heartbreaking to see her high school softball and soccer career come to a close. She grew up respecting Genoa’s soccer program.
“It was bitter-sweet. You grow up and I’ve been looking up to the Genoa soccer team my whole life because I’m going to be there one day, and then the final game day comes and it’s like, ‘Man, it’s over. It’s definitely bitter-sweet,’” Davis said.
Davis adds that she’s glad she will continue to play collegiately, and Trine was the perfect answer.
“I was looking for an engineering college and was maybe considering playing soccer but hadn’t looked. I’m actually going into biomedical engineering. That’s kind of a newer major, so I had to look around and that popped up and I thought I might as well go on a visit, and I loved it. It’s a small-town atmosphere, which is where I’m from,” Davis said.
This summer she hopes to play for a club travel team based in Bowling Green with the hope they can get a few games in before she heads to Angola.
Coaches at Trine have told Davis she’ll play forward or midfield, adding that she’ll play wherever they need her.
“They just sent out our schedule and our summer workouts that we have to complete before heading to campus. We had a back and forth (communication) a few days ago actually,” Davis said.

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