By James Summerlin
The Union baseball team continues to bring in experience in its quest to win another TranSouth title this season after falling short to Cumberland University last year in the TranSouth tournament.
Out of the multiple transfer students from major colleges, Derek Copley, senior physical education major, is a right-handed starting pitcher for the Bulldogs. Copley hails from Dyer, Tenn., and last played for Dyersburg Community College and the Golden Eagles of the University of Southern Mississippi before coming to Union in the 2010 season.
At Southern Miss, Copley also played on the first Golden Eagles team to win a Super Regional and go to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. Copley received a ring for the Super Regional success, but the Golden Eagles were knocked out by the University of North Carolina. Copley said being on the team helped him grow.
“(The experience) has translated well to Union,” Copley said. “You know you’ve been there and you know you’ve done it.”
Due to shoulder injuries, Copley was forced to overcome adversities with the team and was limited in what he could do for Southern Miss. Copley said the main reason he came to Union in 2010 was to be closer to his family so they could watch him play.
“It’s a smaller atmosphere (at Union),” Copley said. “A lot of people want to get to know you and watch you play. I love it here.”
Copley’s work ethic does no go unnoticed. His teammates have paid off with his presence on the team.
“Derek brings his hard work ethic and his desire and determination to win,” Benjie Fesmire, sophomore business administration major, said. “This is contagious and rubs off on everyone else on the team.”
Copley said although the team’s goal is a TranSouth title, he is taking it one game at a time. Copley says he is well aware of the “mind game” of being a pitcher.
“It’s mostly a mind game,” Copley said. “I try to be even keel. I just stay confident knowing I’ve been there before.”
Copley’s teammates say that Copley can bring success to this team.
“I think Derek’s strengths are his ability to give good quality starts on the weekend, his ability to go deep into games and his curve ball,” Fesmire said. “He has one of the best curve balls I have ever faced.”
Last year with the Bulldogs, Copley played 15 games and put up an 8-2 record with a 4.67 ERA. Copley struck out 63 batters in 69 innings for the year.
So far this season, Copley is 1-1 on the year so far. In the three games he has played so far, his has struck out 13 batters.
Copley and the 16th-ranked Union baseball team have started off with a 12-2 record and will begin conference play at Blue Mountain College, March 4.
The next Union home game will be against MacMurray College (Ill.) at 3:30 p.m.