After he stepped aside as United's head softball coach, Gary Eyler expressed the hope that if anybody would take his place, it would be assistant coach Hannah Baker.|
As it turns out, the Aledo native and AlWood High School graduate will take over Eyler's place in the dugout when the Red Storm open their 2013 season against Orion on the Monmouth College diamond. She was tabbed to take over a program that reached the Class 1A State Final Four four straight years, winning the title in 2011.
The former Hannah Cooper was a part of Eyler's staff for all four of the Red Storm's runs to East Peoria, including their consecutive silver-medal finishes in 2008 and '09 and their third-place effort the year prior to their state-championship breakthrough. Last spring, United finished 18-10 and lost in the regional semifinals.
Cooper-Baker was a multi-sport prep standout first at Aledo High School, and then with the AlWood Lady Aces after transferring schools. On the basketball court, she was a key member of a succession of late 1990s AlWood teams that rank among the program's best.