From Mt Airy To Stark Vegas – Paige Cook Embracing the Big Stage
From small town to big city, Habersham native Paige Cook is on the big stage, playing D-I ball in Starkville, MS for Mississippi State University. While most would struggle with the initial shock or melt under pressure, Cook hasn’t had to change much about her game in order to have success at the highest level in the SEC.
“Definitely stepping up in competition and being ready to face people that have been in higher competition a lot longer than I have,” says Cook on the biggest difference between high school ball and NCAA D-I. “In high school there was good competition, but then you had weak competition as well. The competition here is a lot more consistent, so you just have to be prepared for anything.”
Feature Photo by HailState.com
To that end, Cook has been more than prepared since arriving in “Stark Vegas.” She is currently batting .272 on the season with 3 homeruns, 18 RBI, and 28 runs scored, tallying 6 doubles, 2 triples, and drawing 12 walks along with swiping 3 bases for the Lady Bulldogs. MSU is 33-23 after a loss in the SEC tournament against Florida on Thursday. In a COVID-shortened 2020 season, Cook found time to go 4-for-6 (.667 AVG) with 5 RBI, 2 runs, and a stolen base. But in just her third at-bat of 2021, Cook belted her first collegiate homerun in the season-opener against Miami (Ohio).
“I had a pretty good feeling it was gone when I hit it, but I still had to run it out because the wind was blowing like crazy that day,” recalls Cook. “It was very cold…it had just snowed. We just got done scooping snow off the field. It was a very good feeling of excitement to cross home and see my teammates and them hyping me up as soon as I got in the dugout – basically just tackling me.”
Things of course haven’t all been – and certainly won’t always be – that successful for Cook, but she keeps a good head on her shoulders to make the highs never be too high or the lows to be too low.
“I’m just always believing in myself and having the confidence that I’m going to put the ball in play,” says Cook on how she responds to the inevitable slumps that come her way. “I’m going to find a way to get on no matter what. Just finding a way to get on base and believing in myself that I’m going to get a hit eventually.”
Cook has excelled in the game, but also in the classroom (even virtually), earning 2020 SEC First-Year Spring Academic Honor Roll recognition. She was named to the 2021 All-SEC Newcomer Team.
“It’s been crazy with COVID…but it’s been a lot easier to manage my time than in high school,” adds Cook on how she’s fared with adjusting to the college life. “I manage my school work along with softball. Softball is definitely a lot more time consuming, but I like being around the game a lot more now than when I was back home.”
In order to stay on the field and have the opportunities to excel, Cook has had to adjust a little. However, most of what she did in high school stays the same.
“You definitely have to stay healthy – stretching, getting in with the trainer, making sure you’re healthy,” says Cook. “You always have to make sure to stay hydrated. I didn’t change anything when I came here. I stayed on pretty much the same diet, nutrition, the same thing I’ve always kind of done. Training has been a lot more than it was in high school though. You have to be prepared when you come in to get your butt kicked.”
Now that Cook has gotten acclimated to a heavier workout routine and more time on the diamond, while also fine-tuning her time management, she is prepared for what promises to be a fantastic full career in Stark Vegas!
Cook had a BLITZ Hall of Fame softball career at Habersham Central, batting .437 with 10 HR, 66 RBI, 80 R, 26 2B, 8 3B, 33 SB, and earning four-time All-Region distinction. She was named a BLITZ Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2016 after batting .476 with 6 HR and 25 RBI.
CS Framed Print (11×17) – Paige Cook
CS Framed Print (11×17) – Paige Cook