To say the Coppin State Eagles are in unchartered territory would be an understatement. Last season, after finishing the regular season just 10-29 overall and 7-20 in the MEAC, the Eagles did not even qualify for the MEAC Conference Tournament.
This year, despite a sub-.500 24-28 record overall, the Eagles were 17-13 in conference, the No. 2 seed in the MEAC Conference Tournament, ran through the double elimination tournament going 3-1 while beating the No. 1 seed Delaware State twice, and advancing to their first ever NCAA Regional.
It is a true feel good story as the Eagles make program history.
Unfortunately, the road is about to get a lot tougher.
Coppin State has an RPI of 285 and a strength of schedule of 297. They didn’t play a power five conference opponent this year and only played five opponents with an RPI better than 200, and they went 0-5 in those contests. Their Friday opponent, No. 8 overall seed East Carolina, has the 8th best RPI in the country.
While East Carolina will clearly be the best opponent Coppin St has played a quite awhile, the Eagles do have some firepower to put up against the Pirates.
They’ll be lead by John Olerud Award Finalist (similar to UVA’s Devin Ortiz), MEAC pitcher of the year, and first team All-MEAC utility and starting pitcher, Sophomore Jordan Hamberg. The New Jersey native led Coppin with a 6-2 record and a 4.04 ERA while striking out 86 in just 62.1 innings. At the plate he had a team high .355 average, a 1.094 OPS, a .630 slugging percentage, and 8 home runs.
Joining Hamberg on the First Team All-MEAC was a load of other Coppin players including two outfielders in Wellington Balsley and Marcos Castillo, 3⁄4 of the infield in Sebastien Sarabia, Corey Miley, and Brian Nicolas, and catcher Mike Dorcean. Though they finished second in the MEAC regular season, the Eagles took up nine of the 12 First Team All-MEAC positions.
And that doesn’t even include the MEAC Rookie of the Year, infielder Josh Hankins.
Should Coppin be favored to come out of the Greenville Regional? Of course not.
Should they be seen as the favorites on Friday against East Carolina? No.
Could they put it all together for one nine inning game to upset the Pirates behind some special play? Oh yes they could.