Zach Cooper starting off the season on the mound for baseball today
Head coach Steve Jaksa and his staff are giving the baseball to senior Zach Cooper for the opening game of the season and four-game series against Troy this weekend.
“Words can’t really explain,” Cooper said about the anticipation for the beginning of the season. “I’m really excited and ready to get down for some warm weather and play some baseball outside because inside it kind of gets boring, so I’m excited about it.”
The four-game series begins at 7 p.m. Friday in Troy, Ala.
Saturday, the team plays a double-header at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Jon Weaver and Ryan Longstreth are the expected starters, with Rick Dodridge concluding the weekend with his start at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Chippewas were projected to win their third-straight Mid-American Conference West title, according to the conference coaches, but Jaksa isn’t too concerned with it, especially because the team plays 21 games before MAC play begins against Buffalo March 20.
“Each team has its own identity, so we’re going to go out and figure ours out,” Jaksa said. “We don’t play in the MAC for a while. Right now, we’re trying to just play, because ‘hey’ we need to play well. We think we’re one of the best teams in the Midwest, too.”
Cooper leads the team into the season as the starting pitcher, but the rotation looks a lot different than a year ago.
CMU lost starting pitchers’ Trent Howard and Jake Sabol from the Major League Baseball draft.
“It’s definitely some big footsteps to fill with Trent and Jake both leaving,” Cooper said. “Not only myself, but we had a lot of guys that worked hard over the fall and through the summer to get ready for this, so we’re all looking forward to it.”
Jaksa said he hopes his team can continue the mentality that ‘the game in hand is the most important game.’
“Don’t think too much in the past, and don’t think too much in the future. Just play the game you’re supposed to play,” he said.
Troy finished 43-19 last season and won the Sun Belt Conference championship.