Former South Carolina star pitcher Blake Cooper has been named pitching coach at The Citadel, head coach Tony Skole announced Wednesday.
In his senior season, Cooper helped lead the Gamecocks to their first baseball national championship.
Cooper was selected in the 12th round of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
He returned to Columbia to start his coaching career as a student assistant in 2016, assisting with pitchers and serving as first base coach for two seasons.
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“I’m extremely excited to have Coach Cooper and his family become part of The Citadel’s baseball family,” Skole said. “Our cadet-athletes are going to benefit from his knowledge and experience at the highest levels of baseball.”
During his two seasons on the coaching staff at South Carolina, Cooper helped the Gamecocks earn 81 victories. In 2016, South Carolina won 46 games, including the Columbia Regional, and advanced to host a Super Regional.
“I am excited to be part of The Citadel family and the rich tradition that the baseball program embodies,” Cooper said. “I look forward to working alongside Coach Skole and his staff while developing our pitchers. I know our strong work ethic as coaches and cadet-athletes will allow The Citadel baseball program to return to success.”
Cooper saved his best collegiate season for last, earning third-team All-America and first-team All-SEC honors on the national championship squad. He finished the season 13-2 with a 2.76 earned-run average and 126 strikeouts in 137.0 innings pitched. His final start was an eight-inning gem allowing one run in a 7-1 victory over UCLA in the championship series at the College World Series. In his two starts in Omaha that season, Cooper pitched 13.2 innings, struck out 16 and allowed only three walks. He also was named to the NCAA Columbia Regional All-Tournament Team for his performance in the opening round of the postseason.
What They’re Saying About Coach Cooper
“I’m delighted that Coach Skole has selected Blake Cooper as his pitching coach at The Citadel. He brings a wealth of knowledge as a former pitcher and national champion at the University of South Carolina, as well as professional experience from his days in the minor leagues. Blake was the backbone and ace of our pitching staff that propelled us to a national championship and his competitive nature fueled the entire team throughout that season. He understands what it takes to be successful on and off the field and will truly be an asset to the Bulldogs.”
-- Ray Tanner, University of South Carolina Athletic Director/Former Head Baseball Coach
“Blake Cooper will be an outstanding addition to The Citadel baseball staff. He possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience that will translate into great leadership of the Bulldogs’ pitching staff. He made a tremendous impact as a player and a coach during his time here at USC.”
-- Jerry Meyers, University of South Carolina Associate Head Baseball Coach/Pitching Coach
“I am so happy for The Citadel and Blake Cooper. Blake was one of the hardest-working, most savvy pitchers that I’ve ever coached. He was a self-made player and probably the best big-game pitcher I’ve ever seen. He will be a star at The Citadel. He has great knowledge of the college and professional game and a burning desire to be a great coach. Blake will have a great rapport with his pitchers and they will be prepared and ultra-competitive. Blake has the demeanor of a champion and his players will feed off of that. I’ve always had the utmost respect for The Citadel, but now I can say I’m also a fan.”
-- Mark Calvi, University of South Alabama Head Baseball Coach