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Cooperman’s season ends too soon

Chad Cooperman went from playing in two games in his freshman season with Salisbury to playing in 22 games as a senior in the spring of 2016. Half of those games were as a starting pitcher for the Falcons and he compiled a miniscule 1.16 ERA with seven complete games, walking just 18 batters and striking out 116 on the season.

The performance helped him get recruited by Bloomsburg University and through his first three college seasons, he made a habit of striking out opposing batters. Cooperman entered this spring, his senior season, with 171 strikeouts, just 27 short the school record.

Bloomsburg got off to a 9-1 start to the season and Cooperman was 2-0 in three starts.

As the senior right-hander prepared for an afternoon game against Kutztown back on March 12, word came down from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference that the season was being suspended. Shortly after that, the NCAA canceled the remainder of the spring sports season, leaving Cooperman just short of the record.

“I was disappointed, but it wasn’t really a big thing about the record,” said Cooperman. “We all thought they were going to be suspending the season, so it wasn’t a huge surprise. We all just thought we would have at least a final weekend of games together before it ended.”

The NCAA will allow college seniors who lost their spring sports seasons to the coronavirus an extra year of eligibility, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Cooperman will be back with the team and reset the record. He could return to go for his master’s degree, but there are considerations such as where he would be best suited to go and how all the finances would work out for him.

“I’m hoping to be back in a Huskies uniform, but there are some logistical issues with returning that I have to work out,” said Cooperman. “It would be great to pitch another season with them and I’m hoping that’s how it’s going to work out.”

Last summer, Cooperman took an internship with PPL and was offered a job with the company starting this June. With everything going on, the company has told him they would welcome him back for another internship this summer and then push his job offer back a year so he could head back to school. That’s one hurdle that’s out of the way in his pursuit to get a do-over and shoot for the school’s strikeout record.

One other aspect of another season that could make things interesting would be the opportunity to get more attention from major league scouts. There wasn’t a lot of interest in Cooperman from scouts, but he was at least on the scouting radar and another season of college ball could get him a look.

To prepare for the possibility of another season, Cooperman has purchased weights and set up a workout area in the family’s basement. He has continued a pitching and workout regimen given to him by his coaches at Bloomsburg. Cooperman has also stayed in touch with other seniors from the team and some of them are in a different mindset than where he is right now.

“If I had a chance to be drafted, I would certainly be open to that, but for now, that’s just a possibility and I’m looking a lot more at other things,” Cooperman said. “I’m fortunate that I can work out and baseball is an outside game, so I can still throw and stick to a routine. If I’m pitching next season, I want to be ready to go and I’m doing what I can to give myself that chance. For some of the other guys, it just doesn’t make sense for them to come back for another season, but I’m in a spot where it would make some sense.”

While Cooperman isn’t quite sure how everything is going to play out, he does know that at this point, his quest to become Bloomsburg’s all-time strikeout leader isn’t over, just delayed. He also knows that he has a good job waiting for him and there are options for him to explore academically and athletically.

“It’s not really a terrible situation for me because things could work out for me to put on the Huskies uniform again, but if not, there are other opportunities for me,” Cooperman explained. “My focus is just getting used to this new quarantine world and seeing where it all goes.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF BLOOMSBURG AHLTETICSSalisbury graduate Chad Cooperman was on pace to break his school's strike out record before his senior season was cancelled.