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Baseball Welcomes New FieldTurf
The Wright State baseball team recently began practicing on the new FieldTurf surface at Nischwitz Stadium.
For years, FieldTurf has been a leader in baseball. FieldTurf paved the way with the first professional installation, first college installation, hosted championship games and the World Baseball Classic.
Rob Cooper was named just the fourth head coach of the Wright State baseball program on July 14th, 2004 and began to model it after him as a person and a competitor. Entering his eighth season at the helm in 2012, Cooper has guided his teams to six-straight 30+ win seasons, has made five appearances in the Horizon League Championship Game, winning three of them, and has led WSU to three NCAA Regional berths.
The California native took the reins of the Wright State program after serving as an assistant coach at national-power Oral Roberts and immediately instilled a renewed passion and focus to this already strong program. He has helped the program grow through fund raising and community involvement, organizing the Wright State Baseball First Pitch Banquet before the start of each season and planning the annual Military Appreciation Night at Nischwitz Stadium.
He has directed the program to over 200 victories, with his 2007 squad setting the school standard with 21 wins in Horizon League play. He is one of only five coaches to lead his team to multiple Division I NCAA Tournaments at Wright State, guiding the Raiders to a Regional in 2006, 2009 and 2011. He has watched 21 of his players sign professional contracts, seven of those being selected in the Major League Baseball Draft, while four players have garnered All-American honors, 39 players have been selected to the All-League teams and 15 players have earned All-Newcomer honors.
Cooper has twice joined Team USA as an assistant coach during his time at Wright State, joining the 2007 and 2009 squads on their international tours. Two of Cooper's players have accompanied him on those trips, with Jeremy Hamilton making the '07 squad and Casey McGrew was a mainstay in the lineup for the 2009 Collegiate National Team. In 2007, Cooper helped Team USA to a silver medal at the Pan-American Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Cooper helped Team USA compile a 25-12 overall record during their summer of play.
The 2011 season saw Cooper record his 200th coaching victory with an 8-2 decision at home over Youngstown State on March 26. The Raiders won their second straight Horizon League regular-season title with a 16-7 record, claimed the league tournament crown by winning three straight games and advanced to the NCAA Regionals in College Station, Texas.
Cooper won his second straight Horizon League Coach of the Year award as seven players were named to the All-League teams. Junior pitcher Michael Schum, junior catcher Corey Davis, junior first baseman Jake Hibberd, junior third baseman Zach Tanner, sophomore shortstop Justin Kopale and junior outfielder Tristan Moore each were named to the First Team while senior outfielder Dan Marsh was selected to the Second Team. Davis and Tanner were also chosen to the All-Newcomer Team.
The Raiders also claimed three of four postseason awards. Hibberd was selected as the Player of the Year after leading the league in all three Triple Crown categories while Schum was chosen as the Relief Pitcher of the Year and Davis the Newcomer of the Year.
In 2010, Cooper was selected as the Horizon League Coach of the Year as WSU finished 31-25, including a win over a #1-ranked team for the second straight season with a 2-1 decision at Virginia on March 5. The Raiders won the Horizon League regular-season title with a mark of 17-6, the first regular-season conference crown for the program since the 1997 squad won the Midwestern Collegiate Conference title. Wright State then advanced to the championship round of the league tournament before falling twice to Milwaukee.
Seven team members were honored by the Horizon League as sophomore pitcher Casey Henn, senior catcher Gerald Ogrinc, sophomore first baseman Jake Hibberd, senior third baseman Quentin Cate, senior outfielder Casey McGrew and sophomore designated hitter Garrett Gray were each selected First Team All-League while senior pitcher Alex Kaminsky was named to the Second Team.
The 2009 Wright State team compiled a 33-30 overall record, including an 8-5 victory at #1-ranked Georgia on March 24. The schedule included four teams ranked among the top-25 and a handful of national powers that received votes during the season. WSU claimed victories over national contenders Tulane, Kent State and UNC Wilmington on the road, while facing the #1-ranked team five times during the season (four games at Texas A&M, one game at Georgia).
Jeff Mercer was named the Horizon League Player of the Year after pacing the league in three offensive categories, with his school-record tying 74 RBI's giving him the resume to earn Third Team All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball Magazine. Michael Schum was named the Relief Pitcher of the Year in the league as he posted 13 saves and led the Horizon League in ERA. Schum also was named to the Collegiate Baseball Magazine's Freshman All-American squad, the first player in school history to earn the salutation.
Quentin Cate paced the league loop with 12 home runs, while driving in 57 RBI's to earn the Newcomer of the Year honor, the first outright NOTY in program history.
Overall, Wright State placed five players on the All-League squad, with four total players being named to the All-Newcomer Team. Mercer led the charge as the First Team All-League selection at first base, joined by Cate as the First Team selection at third base and McGrew was named the First Team All-League outfielder. R.J. Gundolff was named to the Second Team All-Horizon League squad at shortstop and Schum was named to the Second Team as one of two pitchers. Cate and Schum joined outfielder Ryan Ashe and utility player Jake Hibberd on the All-Newcomer Team.
The 2008 season was the third straight season that Cooper won 30 or more games, posting a 30-23 mark, and the Raiders completed their Horizon League schedule with a 16-6 mark. The 16 wins were good enough to finish second in the league and six players received All-Horizon League honors. Jeremy Hamilton was named the Horizon League Player of the Year, while four other players were named to the All-Horizon League First Team.
At season's end, Cooper watched as a school and Horizon League-record three players were drafted during the 2008 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft. Jeremy Hamilton, Justin Parker and Ross Vagedes were all selected during the draft, in the fifth, sixth and 35th rounds respectively.
The 2008 squad set school records for batting average and slugging percentage, while Hamilton became the fifth WSU player to post a batting average of .400 or better (.410). The Raiders also led the Horizon League in batting average, total bases, fielding percentage and fewest hits allowed by a pitching staff. Five Wright State players led the Horizon League in an offensive, defensive or pitching category, with Hamilton leading the league in walks, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.
In 2007, Wright State enjoyed one of the most prolific offensive seasons in school history as they broke three career records and 11 single-season school records. Ross Oeder was named the Horizon League Player of the Year and garnered Second Team All-American Honors, while Dan Biedenharn won the Rawlings Gold Glove at third base. Oeder and Justin Parker were each selected to the ABCA All-Region team and Hamilton was added to the USA Collegiate National Team roster during the summer.
During that season, the Raiders posted a pair of victories over then-18th ranked Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi, and posted a winning record on the road for the first time since 1994. Wright State also posted 15 wins at home and set a new school standard for league wins in a season with 21. WSU made their second trip to the Horizon League Championship game in 2007, falling in the finale to UIC. Senior Brian Shoup set a tournament single-game record for home runs, with three, against Milwaukee to propel the Raiders into the championship game.
The 2006 edition of the Raiders set six school records and posted the most season wins in five years. During the '06 slate, Cooper's squad defeated nationally-ranked TCU on the road, topped national-powerhouse Notre Dame in South Bend and was on the brink of an upset against eventual national champion Oregon State in the NCAA Corvallis Regional.
Cooper has seen 12 of his players sign professional free agent contracts and has had seven other players selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. Joe Smith, who was the 2006 Horizon League Pitcher of the Year, was drafted in the fifth round by the New York Mets and made his major league debut on Opening Day of the 2007 season with the Mets. Ross Oeder, the 2007 Horizon League Player of the Year, was taken by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2007 draft and played for the Quad City River Bandits last season. In 2008, Hamilton was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the fifth round, Parker was taken in the sixth round by the Arizona Diamondbacks and Vagedes was chosen by the Chicago Cubs in the 35th round. In 2010, Greg Robinson was drafted in the 32nd round by the Diamondbacks and Aaron Fields was selected in the 42nd round by the Cleveland Indians.
Oeder and Smith were the first players in history to garner the Player and Pitcher of the Year honor since WSU joined the Horizon League/Midwestern Collegiate Conference. Oeder became only the sixth player in league history to earn the league's player of the year and tournament MVP honor in his career. With Oeder, Hamilton and Mercer winning the Player of the Year awards in 2007, 2008 and 2009, they became the first trio of teammates to claim the awards in three consecutive seasons.
Before coming to WSU, Cooper served as the hitting coach, recruiting coordinator and bench coach at Oral Roberts University. A perennial power of the Mid-Continent Conference (now Summit League), ORU advanced to the finals of the NCAA Austin Regional in 2004, beating TCU twice and losing to top-seeded Texas 7-3 and 7-5. The Golden Eagles, who finished with an overall mark of 50-11 in 2004, also boasted regular-season wins over national powers Arkansas, Arizona State twice, Creighton three times and Wichita State. Oral Roberts also had five players selected in the Major League Baseball draft, two honored as All-Americans by the American Baseball Coaches Association and three named All-Americans by the College Baseball Insiders website.
Cooper began his coaching career at national power Miami (FL), spending two seasons (1994-95) as a student/graduate assistant on the Hurricanes' staff. While at Miami, Cooper helped lead the Hurricanes to College World Series berths in 1994 and 1995.
Cooper spent the 1996 season as an assistant and team academic coordinator at Wake Forest, then moved on to Tulane for the next two seasons, serving as the Green Wave's hitting coach. During his tenure as an assistant coach at Miami and Tulane, his teams advanced to NCAA Tournaments in 1994-95 (Miami) and 1998 (Tulane). In 1997, the Green Wave won the Conference USA regular-season crown.
Cooper left Tulane following the 1998 season and returned to Sacramento City College, where he starred in the early 1990's before lettering at Miami in 1993. In his first season at Sac City, Cooper helped guide SCC to the California Community College State Tournament championship. Sac City was then the runner-up in 2002.
Along with his college coaching experience, Cooper also was an associate scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1990-92 and has been selected to three coaching stints with USA Baseball in 2000, 2007 and 2009.
Cooper earned his bachelor's degree in psychology from Miami in 1994 and a master's in sports sciences/administration from Miami in 1994. He and his wife, Maureen, reside in the Beavercreek area and have two children, Jake and Tyson.
Associate Head Coach
Greg Lovelady enters in his eighth season at Wright State and his sixth with the title of Associate Head Coach. On the field, Lovelady is the pitching coach and works with the catchers on a daily basis while off the field, he serves as the recruiting coordinator for the program, helping WSU to NCAA Tournaments in 2006, 2009 and 2011.
The 2011 season saw head coach Rob Cooper record his 200th coaching victory with an 8-2 decision at home over Youngstown State on March 26. That season also saw Jake Hibberd become his fourth Horizon League Player of the Year, Michael Schum pick up his second HL Relief Pitcher of the Year and Corey Davis named the second League Newcomer of the Year under Cooper and Loveloady. Early-season wins over The Citadel and West Virginia helped catapult the Raiders to a sixth-straight 30-win season.
The 2010 season saw the Raiders win 30 or more games for the fifth straight year. Sophomore pitcher Casey Henn earn First Team All-Horizon League honors as he posted a 7-0 record with a league-leading 3.19 earned run average and 82 strikeouts in 84.2 innings while holding the opposition to a league-best .241 batting average. Senior pitcher Alex Kaminsky was named to the Second Team after winning five games with 88 strikeouts while senior catcher Gerald Ogrinc was selected to the First Team after throwing out 16 of 26 base stealers and recording five pickoffs to lead the league.
2009 saw freshman Michael Schum receive the Horizon League's Relief Pitcher of the Year award after leading the conference with a 1.95 ERA and 13 saves, striking out 57 in 74 innings. Schum was also named to the Second Team and the All-Newcomer Team.
In 2008, Lovelady led a pitching staff that saw Jon Durket earn First Team All-Horizon League honors. As a staff, Wright State ranked second in wins and led the Horizon League in Fewest Hits Allowed. Durket led the league in ERA and Alex Kaminsky led the league in wins and opponents batting average against.
In 2007, the Raiders boasted the most wins in the Horizon League (36) and held the second best team ERA. The Green and Gold boasted only the sixth pitcher in WSU history to win 10+ games in a season, Kyle Kearcher, and compiled the seventh highest win total in school history. The Green and Gold also set the school standard for league wins in a season with 21 victories.
In 2006, the Raiders pitching staff set a new school mark for pickoffs in a season (28) and came within 1/3 of an inning of breaking the school mark for innings pitched in a season. The Green and Gold own a team ERA of 5.14 over the past three seasons and have won 94 games in that span.
Lovelady has also started to shape his pitchers and catchers into major league form. Relief pitcher Joe Smith opted to leave WSU after a spectacular junior season and was taken with the 93rd overall pick in the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft by the New York Mets organization. Smith made his Major League debut on April 1, 2007, in St. Louis. Along with Smith, 11 other Raider pitchers and catchers have joined the professional ranks during Lovelady's tenure (Greg Robinson, Ross Vagedes, Robert Barrett, Aaron Garcia, Jason Bennion, Kyle Kearcher, Garret Holleran, Ogrinc, Kaminsky, Durket and Travis LaMar).
Lovelady came to WSU after a successful playing career and three-year stint with one of the nation's elite teams in Miami (FL). The Hurricanes won two national championships, in 1999 and 2001, with Lovelady as the catcher. A four-year letterman for the 'Canes, Lovelady captained the 2001 squad that won its second national championship in three years.
Lovelady hit a career best .314 with a 14-game hitting streak during his 1999 campaign. Lovelady was also a fan favorite in Coral Gables, receiving the Arnold Novins Award in 2001, an honor bestowed on the "Most Popular Player" as voted by the fans of Miami. The 'Canes made a postseason appearance during each of Lovelady's years as a player and coach in Coral Gables. UM Reached the College World Series five times and advanced to the NCAA super regional seven times while Lovelady was on campus.
Lovelady graduated from Miami in 2001 with a degree in Finance and a minor in Sports Management as a member of the university's deans list. Professionally, Lovelady played with the Utica Blue Sox, an affiliate of the Florida Marlins, and helped develop two UM catchers and numerous pitchers into major league draft choices.
Lovelady and his wife Lindsay reside in Beavercreek with their son, Noah Preston, who was born on December 16, 2008.
Ross Oeder is in his third season as an assistant coach at his alma mater after spending two seasons playing professionally in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. The infielder was an All-American standout at WSU, along with being named the first Horizon League Player of the Year in school history during the 2007, and held a career on-base percentage of .300 during his two seasons in the minor leagues.
Since joining the staff, Oeder has seen continued success on the field with the Raiders advancing to the 2011 NCAA Tournament and winning the regular-season Horizon League titles in 2010 and 2011.
One of the most decorated players in Wright State history, Oeder was drafted in the 28th round by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2008 MLB First Year Player Draft and spent his first season with the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League. That season, he collected 40 hits, drove in eight RBI's and scored 18 runs in 48 games played for the Muckdogs. The next season, while playing with the Class A Quad City River Bandits, Oeder played in 32 games with 20 hits, 12 runs scored and five home runs. That season he walked eight times, drove in 15 RBI's, while smacking two home runs in a game on July 17.
While at Wright State, Oeder became the first WSU player since 1993 to earn All-American honors and was the first Raider to earn the Horizon League Player of the Year Award during his senior season. The Sandusky native was a Second Team All-American selection in 2007, to go along with First Team All-Horizon League honors. Oeder is one of only five players in Wright State history to end a season with a batting average of .400, clipping a .408 during his senior year.
Oeder is among the career leaders in batting average, on-base percentage, games played, games started, runs scored, hits, doubles, total bases and hit-by-pitch. He sits atop the hit-by-pitch list and owned a .446 on-base percentage in 219 games played during his career. He was a Second Team All-Horizon League selection as a rookie, garnered Horizon League Tournament MVP honors while leading the Green and Gold to the 2006 Horizon League Tournament Championship and was selected to the First Team All-Horizon League squad after leading the league in five offensive categories.
Oeder still ranks among the career leaders in 15 offensive categories, tops the career charts in fielding assists and appears 15 times in the single season record books. He owns three of the top-four assists seasons and is the career leader in double plays turned.
Oeder earned his Bachelors of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Wright State in 2008 and currently resides in Dayton.