What's with the three sister acts for Pineville, ASH softball? Results are on the field

LaMar Gafford
Alexandria Town Talk

PINEVILLE — The family that plays together, stays together. 

Tuesday’s softball matchup between Pineville and Alexandria Senior High was an example.

The Lady Rebels avenged their only loss of the season and defeated ASH 5-0 to take the District 2-5A lead. The game also featured three pairs of sisters playing for arguably the area’s top two teams.

Part of Pineville’s deep and experienced lineup are twin sisters Erin and Lauren Cooper, as well as senior Meredith Mertens and her younger sister, Margaret. The Lady Trojans trotted out their own set of twins with Erin Stallings at shortstop and catcher Avery Stallings.

“I really like it because it’s always someone there to push you,” Lauren Cooper said. “We can always go practice together, help each other and see things that we don’t see about ourselves. So, it’s someone that always helps you get better.”

Part of the reason why the Lady Rebels (24-1, 6-1 District 2-5A) have had success this season is due to their ability to score runs when needed most and both Cooper twins drove in a run during Tuesday’s game.

Sisters Avery (left) and Erin Stallings pose after a recent Alexandria Senior High game.

Lauren Cooper’s base hit in the fifth inning put the game out of reach at 4-0, but she drove in her sister.

“I was on second base and I was nervous,” Erin Cooper said. “I was like, ‘She’s gotta hit the ball. She’s got this.’ When I saw that pitch and saw her hit it, I was just excited.”

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The Cooper twins are  also close with the Stallings twins — having played on the same travel ball team during the offseason.

Avery and Erin have played softball together since they were seven years old — rising up through the Dixie Softball ranks. Now they play big roles for the Lady Trojans (16-7, 5-2), who recently beat West Monroe on March 24.

While it was competitive growing up between the two, both sisters use that drive to lift each other.

“If she messes up, I definitely want to have her back,” Avery Stallings said. “Having a sister kind of makes a difference because it makes us competitive within each other and we also encourage each other differently because we want each other to succeed.”

It was another family member that inspired the Mertens as Meredith was a freshman when their cousin, Kacee, was Pineville’s starting third baseman as a senior in 2019 before signing with Northwestern State.

The Mertens sisters and the Cooper twins have helped Pineville start the season 24-1 and hold the No. 1 spot in Class 5A. From left are Margaret Mertens, Meredith Mertens, Lauren Cooper and Erin Cooper.

As a result, Margaret wears Kacee’s old number, No. 99, and credits her for setting an example of how to play.

“She has been a role model for me because she’s good at softball,” Meredith said. “I always looked up to her as an example of what hard work and dedication looked like. It really paid off and it was great to have her there coming in as a freshman. She was a great senior leader.”

There is a chance that Pineville and ASH could meet again in the playoffs with the Lady Rebels ranked No. 1 in Class 5A and the Lady Trojans at No. 9.

“As bad as we want to beat them, we want them to succeed just as much, just because we’re so close to them,” Avery Stallings said. “We never want them to mess up so that we can win a game. We’re just hoping that we don’t have to play them in the playoffs, because we don’t to be the reason why its their last game or the other way around.”