BULLARD — Kristi “Coco” Springer has played softball since she was 6. She will get to play a little longer after graduating from Bullard High School.
The Lady Panther standout signed a softball scholarship on Friday to attend Texas Woman’s University in front of her family, friends and coaches at Owens Auditorium.
Springer made all-district as a freshman at Robert E. Lee High School and the past two years at Bullard High School.
She is a member of one of Texas’ top select teams in the East Texas-based Sneaky Cleats. Her talents as a pitcher and player drew the interests of Texas A&M-Commerce, Clark University, Tarleton State, Tyler Junior College, Blinn College, Galveston College, Kilgore College, Texas Southern, Northern Florida and St. Edward’s.
Playing for her dad, Anthony, and Sneaky Cleats Gold has put Springer and her teammates in the spotlight, winning 38 tournament championships, along with six national appearances and three national titles.
Texas Woman’s University is a member of the Lone Star Conference, and has five returning seniors to a team that won the South Central Regional Championship last season. The Lady Pioneers have been an NCAA Division II power.
Genny Stidham is in her first season at TWU after coaching Central Oklahoma to the NCAA Division II World Series last year.
After considering several offers and making a few recruiting trips, the visit to TWU was the final selling point for Springer.
TWU has a smaller campus, and the promise of three meals a day was all it took to make Springer feel right at home.
“I like knowing that coach Stidham was also a pitcher and relates well to her players,” Springer said. “But I really like the school, I have family there, it’s not too far from home, and it’s a relief to put this behind and get ready for this season.
“I have been waiting for this day for a long time and I have so many teachers and coaches who have helped me get to where I am today.”
Bullard coach Pam Chesnut is happy for her student.
“Having Coco has been awesome,” Chesnut said. “Her softball wisdom really helped me out as a first-year head coach and having her on my side helped the players believe in themselves and in me as a coach. She should have a great future. She has been working hard, preparing for the push to the next level.”
Playing for the Sneaky Cleats allowed her to hone her softball skills.
The Sneaky Cleats accumulated a 104-26 record while Springer played for the squad.
“Sneaky Cleats allowed me to travel all over the U.S. and play the best teams,” Springer said. “My most memorable game was at 2 a.m. in Panama City Beach, Fla. We won the World Series, and the players from teams that we beat earlier in the day came out to cheer for us.
“We were like family. We played with heart and since most of us had played together since we were 10 years old we gelled really well.”
As a junior, Springer had a 0.643 ERA in the circle while striking out 253 batters, walking only 44 and giving up just 26 hits.
Her parents, Anthony and Gayla Springer, were all smiles at the signing and following the reception.
“All I can say is that is just phenomenal,” said her dad, coach of the Sneaky Cleats. “She has battled through adversity all of her life, and she has been blessed to have this opportunity.
“There are so many to thank over the years, without the teachers, the tutors, the coaches and her teammates, none of this would have been possible.”