With three no hitters under her belt, first-year pitcher Courtney Coppersmith is picking off batters, and picking up accolades—including a first for UMBC.
By Zach Seidel ’12, M.S. ’15
The crowd roared and then began laughing, because at this point, it’s all become so unbelievable you can’t help but laugh. First-year pitcher Courtney Coppersmith, biochemistry and molecular biology, had just hit a tie-breaking (and eventual game-winning), two-out, two-strike grand slam for the UMBC Softball team in the bottom of the sixth (out of the seven innings in a softball game) against non-conference foe Norfolk State. She also pitched in the game and struck out ten batters in a complete game victory.
This hit was her first career home run, but more impressively, it happened just three days after she pitched the second perfect game (getting every batter faced out) in program history. In her perfect game against conference rival Binghamton, she also went 3-for-3 with three runs batted in (RBI) at the plate and struck out seven batters while pitching.
Her teammates and fans just can’t stop shaking their heads and smiling, because every time the lefthander from York, Pennsylvania, steps on the field, it seems like she’s either breaking another record or coming up clutch.
The previous UMBC record for strikeouts in a single game was 13, set over a decade ago. Coppersmith has already reached or surpassed that total in a game seven times this season. She absolutely shattered the record in one of the best performances in the nation this season: a 17 strikeout, no walk, one hit masterpiece in a 1-0 win at UNC Wilmington, in which she scored the only run of the game on offense for UMBC. She then one-upped that with a 17 strikeout no-hitter in a 7-0 win over conference rival Maine. That’s right, she threw a perfect game and a no-hitter back-to-back conference games. A week later, she struck out 12 in her third no-hitter of the season, a 2-0 win over Delaware State.
For her effort, Coppersmith became the first UMBC player to ever be named Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division 1 National Pitcher of the Week, and also became the first person in America East Conference history to sweep the weekly awards as she was named as the Player, Pitcher, and Rookie of the Week for the week of games ending April 15.
On April 18, she was announced as a member of the 2019 Schutt Sports / NFCA Freshman of the Year Top 25, an award given to the top freshmen in the entire nation. Not only is she the first Retriever ever selected to the Top 25 list, but also the first member of the America East Conference.
No one has more fun on the diamond than Coppersmith, who can be seen dancing to the music in between pitches. She’s top three in the country in strikeouts (246) and strikeouts per game (11.45), and has the softball team off to its best start since 2015. We sat down with the thrower of a nasty “rise ball” for a Q&A.
Zach Seidel: You were obviously recruited to play at multiple schools, so what made UMBC your top choice?
Courtney Coppersmith: They say it’s like a wedding dress, you know it when you see it and then you cry. When I visited campus I knew it was the perfect fit. (I didn’t cry, though.) Academics are very important to me, and it’s a very good academic school. UMBC offered me a sense of community. It offers a lot programs and academic opportunities on top of being an athlete.
ZS: You want to be a pharmacist, correct? Why is that?
CC: I like helping people and pharmacists provide medicine to people to help them do that. If I don’t end up doing that, I do want to do research and help create drugs that can cure cancer and help treat various diseases.
ZS: What feels better for you: acing a chemistry test or striking out a batter?
CC: Acing a chemistry test. A hundred percent acing a chemistry test!
ZS: What is the coolest thing about striking someone out?
CC: The best part is when you fall behind 3-0, and then you throw two strikes that they don’t swing at and then you get them to chase the rise ball anyway. Or, I’ll throw a low rise ball right into the edge of the zone [for a called third strike] and they’ll just look at the umpire; that’s also very amusing to watch.
ZS: Do you prefer striking batters out swinging or looking?
CC: Oh, that’s a tough one because I get a lot of my strikeouts swinging, but I guess I like them equally. It’s really funny to watch them when they think it’s not going to be a strike and it’s a strike, but also really funny to watch them swing at a ball that’s over their head, because in no way is that going to be a strike, and they still swing at it anyway!”
ZS: What’s your walkout song and why?
CC: For my normal walkout, I use the song “Wild Thing” from the movie Major League for the simple reason that it is one of mine and my dad’s favorite movies, and it is such an important moment in that movie. For my second walkout, it is the Little Einsteins trap remix. While it may sound super childish, I really enjoy the remix and the hype that it brings my teammates, myself, and even the other team.
ZS: What’s the Retriever fan support like?
CC: Retriever fans are one of the major parts to the game; while we still go out and do our jobs, either way, fans only bring even more support to us as we are out there playing our game.
ZS: If you could strike out anybody in the world, who would it be?
CC: Heck, I would love to be able to strikeout Coach [Chris] Kuhlmeyer. He always talks a lot of smack and I know that he doesn’t think I could strike him out, so that would be a cherry on top of the ice cream!
Header image courtesy of Ian Feldmann, The Retriever.