Trojans' duo more than just teammates
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on May 11, 2008 2:02 AM
The heart of Mount Olive shortstop David Cooper's friendship with second baseman Anthony Williams can be defined by one glance at their baseball caps.
Underneath the bill of the cap, you'll find a tally for double plays turned by the middle infielders.
It's a tradition Cooper started while playing junior college ball in Canada. He brought it with him to MOC and Williams has embraced the ritual in competitive fashion.
The duo is one reason the Trojans rank second nationally in double plays for the season and per game. Each time they return to the dugout, they're scrambling for a pen to record their latest twin killing.
"It's just an inspirational thing to work for to see if you can fill the brim of your hat up," said Cooper. "We're always counting up to see how we compare with each other. I guess we just have to have bragging rights at the end of the year."
The lead-off hitter in top-ranked Mount Olive's lineup, Cooper is unquestionably the keys to the ignition for the Trojans' offense.
"Cooper is the spark plug of our team," said head coach Carl Lancaster. "When he goes, we have a much easier time going as a team."
Cooper is hitting .361 this season with 30 RBI and he's 29-for-32 in stolen bases. His famous hit-and-run with Williams, the No. 9 batter in the lineup, has been tabbed the "Coop Special" by his teammates.
"The Coop special, they just kind of nicknamed it that with the hit and run," Cooper said. "A lot of times the infield plays me in. I'll just flare one into shallow left and Anthony just jogs to third because he pretty much doesn't even have to run.
"I live by it."
A Williamston native, Williams has been slightly more inconsistent at the plate this season. However, the final batter in the order just ahead of Cooper, he is 19-for-19 on stolen-base attempts, has scored 42 runs and is hitting a steady .311 at the plate.
The senior's biggest hit occurred in the semifinals of the Conference Carolinas tournament. His 10th-inning, walk-off single helped the Trojans turn back regionally-ranked Belmont Abbey 3-2.
The two biology majors have developed a rapport that goes far beyond those afternoons of turning double plays and living as thieves on the base paths.
"We've had all of our biology classes together and we've had our senior research together," said Williams. "We've worked on and off the field together big time. When we're off the field, we hang out. It makes a big difference.
"The biggest thing is I trust him. I feel like we can turn any double play. Ty Lawson could be running to first and I feel like we could turn a double play on him."
And induce another mark inside the cap, a reminder of the two's comaraderie on the diamond.
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