The left-handed ace of Northeast Mississippi Community College’s pitching staff is following in the footsteps of several family members as he takes the next step in his baseball career.
Cooper Cox has confirmed his commitment to become the newest member of the highly respected program at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss).
“I’m so excited for Coop,” said Tigers head coach Richy Harrelson. “He’s a great guy with great character. He did everything that we asked him to do. So we couldn’t be any happier for him.
“His pitch ability is off the chart. He can throw the fastball, breaking ball and changeup for a strike at anytime. He’s very competitive and keeps his composure. His command is off the chart. He understands how to change speeds with the best of them.”
The Rebels, who are under the direction of the longest tenured coach in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in Mike Bianco, are preparing to host a NCAA regional for the second consecutive season after reaching the SEC Tournament championship game.
“Everybody in my family has always graduated from Ole Miss. So getting to play there is really big for me,” Cox said. “I’m really excited. They have a really good pitching program. I think I’m going to do great at Ole Miss.”
Cox was solid during his initial campaign at Northeast, but increased his productivity even more as a sophomore. He paced the Tigers in games started, wins, complete games, innings pitched and strikeouts.
The Ripley High School graduate compiled an 8-4 record for Northeast in 13 total appearances, which included 12 starts. His lone relief outing came during Northeast’s game one victory at then 10th-ranked Meridian Community College.
Cox led the entire nation with eight complete games. He also topped all starting pitchers in Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) with a sensational 2.38 earned run average (ERA).
His eight individual wins are the most by any Tiger since former National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-American Chase Porch matched that total during the 2008 campaign.
The 6-2, 240-pound hurler struck out 64 batters compared to just 12 walks in 72 total innings of work. That equates to only one walk in every six innings and made Cox’s strikeout-to-walk ratio a phenomenal 5.33-to-1.
Cox notched a career-high 11 strikeouts during the nightcap of Northeast’s home sweep of Mississippi Delta Community College. He also had a pair of nine strikeout performances on the road against Northwest Mississippi Community College and Southwest Tennessee Community College.
He did not walk a single hitter during seven appearances this year. Cox rolled off a stellar stretch of 23 straight innings without conceding a walk that began on February 26 at Southwest Tennessee and ended over one month later on March 27 versus Mississippi Delta.
Cox concluded his tenure in the City of Hospitality in grand fashion by tossing another complete game with four strikeouts and no earned runs in a NJCAA Region 23 playoff triumph at Northwest.
“I enjoyed every minute of it,” Cox said in reference to his time at Northeast. “I learned to not let errors or stuff that I can’t control affect me. Just stay calm and be a positive guy on-and-off the field.”
Cox was selected to the MACJC All-State team following a freshman campaign that featured six wins, including a complete game victory at rival Itawamba Community College, plus a save in 16 appearances overall.
He threw a team-high 74 innings with 49 strikeouts and only 19 walks. Cox recorded his inaugural triumph in a Northeast uniform during his second start at Jackson State (Tenn.) Community College on February 18, 2018.
Cox accounted for 14 wins against just eight losses in 29 outings with the Tigers. He accumulated 113 strikeouts and walked just 31 batters in 146 innings of action with an ERA of 3.08.
This is the second consecutive year that a Northeast alumnus has continued his career in the SEC after Tucker Childers went to Mississippi State University. Jon Andy Scott, who served as Cox’s pitching coach over the last two seasons, was the last Tiger to play at Ole Miss from 2011-13.
CUTLINE (PHOTO: Michael H. Miller/Northeast Public Information)
Northeast Mississippi Community College pitcher Cooper Cox of Ripley celebrated joining the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) baseball program in the media room of the Seth Pounds Auditorium on Thursday, May 30. Joining Cox at his celebration were (front row l-r) mother Angie Hamilton, Cooper Cox, father Joe Cox along with (back row l-r) Ripley High School head baseball coach Joel Gafford, Ripley High School assistant baseball coach Caleb Reno, stepfather Bo Hamilton, Northeast head baseball coach Richy Harrelson, grandfather Bobby Cox, stepmother Sherri Cox and girlfriend Haley Cockrell.