When she first moved to southwest Missouri, Marin (Whorton) Cooney learned to pitch by throwing against the side of her house. By the mid-1990s, the Ozark High School standout was one of the area’s top arms, helping the program win 67 games in four years.
Now Cooney’s career is being remembered again as the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame will recognize her among the Diamond 9, to be honored at the Baseball Luncheon presented by the Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company.
The luncheon is at 11 a.m. May 18 at the University Plaza Convention Center in Springfield. (For tickets, call 417-889-3100.)
“I taught myself how to pitch when I was 10,” said Cooney, an all-everything at Ozark before graduating in 1997. “We just moved to Missouri and there wasn’t much instruction offered. So I would practice every day and pitch against the side of our house. I never pitched in Oklahoma since I had always played third base.”
Cooney will be among elite company on May 18.
The Hall is naming former Missouri State University baseball coach and athletic director Bill Rowe a Missouri Sports Legend – his bronze bust will be unveiled – and will induct three individuals: former St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen, longtime Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs groundskeeper George Toma and Mansfield High School baseball coach Doug Jones.
Cooney is among the Diamond 9, a group of former high school, college and professional players who made contributions in baseball or softball.
Ozark won 67 of 88 games in her four years before she graduated. Along the way, Cooney was a two-time All-State selection as well as All-Central Ozark Conference and All-District all four years, plus the COC Player of the Year in 1995.
As a pitcher, Cooney was 49-16 in 394 innings, in which she struck out 429 batters and compiled a 1.99 earned run average.
Cooney’s 45 career doubles are tied for second-most in state history, and she is ninth all-time in hits per game (1.60). Her doubles per game are best (0.52) in the state as well.
“I think what helped me become a good ball player was that I played very competitive ball since I was 8 in Oklahoma before coming to Missouri,” Cooney said. “We traveled every weekend, so I played a lot. Every summer since I was 8, I played competitive ball.”
Cooney finished with a lifetime batting average of .513 and at one point held a program record with eight consecutive hits.
“My dad is my mentor,” Cooney said. “He was a great athlete and played baseball at Crowder (College) and then Tulsa University. He always pushed me to be the best. I would come home after practice and practice more with my dad. I was always playing some sport.”
Cooney, who went on to play two seasons at Missouri Southern, now sells real estate in Springfield.
The Diamond 9s this year are Marin Whorton Cooney (Ozark High School/Missouri Southern), Sophia Alexander Denning (Strafford High School/Drury), Bob Detherage (Hillcrest High School/Kansas City Royals), Bill Helfrecht (Glendale High School/Missouri State), Brent Maggard (Sparta High School/Crowder/Southern Arkansas), Kristen Marshall (Glendale High School/William Jewell), Troy McMain (Willard High School), Christian Overstreet (Nixa High School/Missouri State) and Tom Wilson (Bolivar High School/Detroit Tigers).
An individual tickets is $40, while a head table ticket is $100. A table of eight is $400 and includes associate sponsor recognition in the printed program as well as an autographed print. Call the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame at 417-889-3100.