HARTSVILLE, S.C. — Andrew Coker had settled into the best pitching of his college career, making four appearances for Winthrop after transferring from Clemson.
He even earned his first collegiate win.
And then, the season was canceled because of the coronavirus.
After going 2-0 with six strikeouts during 12 innings pitched and a 2.25 ERA in four appearances, all the former Hartsville High School star can do is look ahead to next season.
And even the next, if he so chooses.
Coker already has his supply chain management degree from Clemson. So with two years of eligibility remaining (he redshirted his first year with the Tigers), he desired a change of scenery.
The Eagles, in turn, were happy to have him.
“I didn’t quite get the opportunities I wanted at Clemson. But as soon as I got to Winthrop, they welcomed me with open arms,” Coker said. “They have a great staff and great teammates. It was a lot of fun to get to pitch a lot of meaningful innings again.”
In 2019, his lone Clemson appearance resulted in a hitless and scoreless ninth against the College of Charleston. During the summer, Coker joined the Florence RedWolves wooden-bat team and started three games.
In his first RedWolves start, Coker struck out three during six innings and earned the win. With the Florence team, he went 1-1 during three appearances (17⅓ innings) and struck out 11 batters.
While playing for Hartsville, the 2016 graduate was all-state three times and was all-region and earned North-South all-star game honors. During his senior campaign, he went 9-1 with a 1.35 ERA and team-high 75 innings pitched.
After Coker transferred from Clemson, Winthrop’s coaches also liked what they saw in him.
“They say the best pitch is a strike,” Coker said. “And I like to think I throw a lot of strikes and fill up the zone. I felt like I was doing my best to lead the other guys and hold them accountable and also make my teammates better.”
Both of Coker’s wins on the mound were in relief appearances (against Canisus and George Mason).
“I had two long-relief outings, and had a one-out appearance, and then a mid-week start that I didn’t factor in,” Coker said. “I’d like to think I would have settled into a long-relief role.”
At first, Coker didn’t know what to think of the season’s cancellation.
“It was a shock,” he said. “Nobody had ever seen anything like this. I thought we’d start back like today, around April 1. Everything had been suspended until March 30. We thought it was just going to go home for two or three weeks and keep the arms hot and ready while trying to get even better. But then this happened, and it was kind of disappointing.”
But Coker remains positive.
“There’s really only one way to look at things,” said Coker, who isn’t sure whether he’ll play the 2022 season.
He also has no plans for summer baseball.
“I always look at the positive side and put the negatives aside. I can’t control whether the season plays out or not. I’ll just use this time to try to make myself better and look to next year.”
An eight-time APSE national contest honoree, Scott recently authored his first book,”70 Years of Thrills and Chills, Drama and Dents at Darlington Raceway.” In college, Scott played on a tennis scholarship and earned degrees from Young Harris College (Ga.) and Berry College (Ga.).