Making the most of a career
Chad Cooperman was a versatile player during his career at Salisbury High School. Not only did the current Bloomsburg University sophomore pitch well, he was arguably the Falcons’ top infielder.
While most players at the college levels don’t play both ways, Cooperman wasn’t ready to give up either position when he stepped onto Bloomsburg’s campus. He set out to define himself as the rare two-way baseball player.
He has not only done it, but has been highly successful nonetheless.
“There’s only maybe two or three guys in our conference that do it,” Cooperman said. “And in college baseball, there’s not that many at the Division I or Division II levels. It’s more common at the Division III level. They’re not throwing significant innings on the mound like I’m doing.
“There’s sometimes where you’re struggling where you think, ‘Oh maybe I just need to pick pitching or pick fielding and try to get really good at one of them.’ But at the end of the day, there’s only so many games left in our careers, and I like being on the field as much as possible.”
He’s one of the best Huskies in the batters box, on the pitching mound and in the field.
Cooperman has amassed a 2-2 record in the six games he has pitched. In 32 innings he’s struck out 33 batters and has a 2.53 ERA. He allowed just four earned runs over his first four starts before giving up five against East Stroudsburg on April 8.
Bloomsburg currently sits 21-7 overall with a 13-3 record in the PSAC.
“I think I’m definitely playing better than last year,” Cooperman said. “I’m more experienced overall. I think I’m a little bit stronger, and I definitely worked on some things in the offseason trying to improve things both on the mound and at the plate. It’s definitely paying off.”
One aspect of his training that Cooperman has put more focus on is his body maintenance and recovery, which has helped him with playing both ways. He also focused on his arm strength in the offseason.
“That was something I think I kind of took for granted last winter,” Cooperman said. “I didn’t really put that time into trying to condition my arm properly and trying to get myself into the best shape as possible going into the season.”
The hard work has paid off perhaps even more in the batters box. After struggling as a freshman in the team’s out-of-conference schedule to open last spring and batting .273 with just 21 hits, his average and production has jumped drastically through 28 games. Cooperman is batting an impressive .367 with 22 hits, 14 RBIs and 14 runs scored.
On the mound, he went from an 0-5 record as a freshman with a 6.55 ERA to this year’s sub-3.00 mark. Saturday’s game was his the best of his collegiate career, a seven-inning shutout against Mansfield in which he allowed just six hits and struck out five batters.
“I just threw yesterday, and that was my best college outing and my first shutout,” Cooperman said. “Definitely this year I started out good. I kind of had a hiccup last weekend against East Stroudsburg, but I definitely feel like this is the best I’ve been.
“College is a lot different than high school baseball. Everyone is bigger, faster and stronger. The game happens a lot quicker. Getting a year under my belt really helped make the adjustments necessary to play at this level.”
He credits much of his success to his year-round play in various leagues, as well as practicing and lifting nearly every day in the offseason. He plays in the Blue Mountain League and for the Allentown Railers with the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League. In the winter he is throwing, hitting and pitching six days a week.
But one of the behind-the-scenes factors to his success rests in his brother Tyler, who is a physical therapy student at DeSales and helps Chad in those areas of his health and training.
“Now he kind of plays a crucial role for me,” Cooperman said. “He’s basically my strength and conditioning coach when I come home and my physical therapist. He helps me train a lot. He does a lot for me behind the scenes.”
Cooperman returns to the field for the red hot Huskies during this week’s series against Slippery Rock University in a four-game slate. Games 1 and 2 scheduled for Tuesday were postponed due to weather conditions.