Pitching coach makes immediate impact on freshman pitchers


Sean Marty / The Sunflower

Freshman Kenzie Schopfer throws a pitch during a fall game against Emporia State on Oct. 9 inside Wilkins Stadium.

It’s a season of firsts for some of the pitching staff in the women’s softball program at WSU and Pitching Coach Presley Bell said they are “growing together.” 

Bell is in her first year as a pitching coach for the women’s softball program  after spending two seasons as a graduate volunteer assistant.  Joining her this season are freshman pitchers Kenzie Schopfer and Alison Cooper. 

“They’re my first true pitchers that I’m going through the whole shebang with so we are building that relationship (and) we are talking in our bullpens,” Bell said. “We are talking mindsets.”

Cooper and Schopfer both have had an immediate impact in the Shockers last two weekends of play. Both threw a complete game in the circle last weekend. 

Cooper threw a complete game against No. 24 Illinois and pitched 2.1 innings of relief against No. 10 Arkansas. Schopfer threw a complete game shutout against Western Illinois. Bell said she’s had an opportunity to help both Cooper and Schopfer form their own unique mindset in their first season. 

“I mean Ali came in and showed she’s a competitor,” Bell said.  “She kind of wants the ball in those situations and she kind of thrives in that atmosphere and she gets after it. 

Kenzie is pretty calm, cool and collected. She did her job. She got her spots. She got her strikeouts which is awesome.” 

Even though Schopfer and Cooper have had an opportunity to start a brand new relationship with their pitching coach and vice versa, Schopfer and Cooper said the first time establishing a relationship with senior pitchers Caitlin Bingham and Erin McDonald have helped them prepare for the division one level. 

“I think the biggest thing that Cailtin and Erin have taught us is to just have intent with every single practice,” Schopfer said. “Every single bullpen. Every single pitch all the time and that’s how as you get older and more experienced… how you do well.”

Cooper described the seniors on staff as more of a second coach due to the years of experience they have. 

“So I got to them with a lot of questions if like how do they do different things or what kind of mindset they have and different plays so it’s nice to have them to get advice and then even learn from them and what they do and how they act in certain situations and how they handle certain situations,” Cooper said. 

Bell said starting out as young and successful in the program is only more room to see both Schopfer and Cooper establish themselves as strong pitchers.  

 “They can only go up from here and they have a lot of growth to still get into and that they have a lot of potential to be people to eat some innings for us this season,” Bell said.