Copperheads Go to Social Media Seeking Pitchers

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Recruiting pitchers has been a concern all summer for the Southern Ohio Copperheads, forcing the team to get creative with its recruitment efforts.

Problems with keeping a full roster started early in the season whether it be from their college’s innings restrictions or injury.

“We lost a bunch in a short period of time. We’re allowed to have 30 guys on our roster and you roughly want 15 or 16 of those to be pitchers and we lost 8 or 9 before the season even started,” said Dunfee. “We were down in a pretty deep hole before anybody got to town.” 

To begin the summer, the Copperheads had three infielders go down with arm injuries (one of them was an infielder and pitcher), they had to bring in a catcher a day before the first game of the season and they added one infielder a week-and-a-half into the season.

Then in May, Dunfee received commitments from two more pitchers from a collegiate league in Virginia. The two players were supposed to play in the league that only lasted the month of June then finish the summer in Athens.

“They were scheduled to start for us on the 10th. I found out the Monday before that some things came up and they weren’t going to be able to come. We were left without a starter for Wednesday or Thursday for that week,” said Dunfee.

Then an idea came to his mind: send out a post, create conversation from local and national players searching for an opportunity to play and to get in contact with him, then bring in as many as he can to the 30-man roster.

“Then I posted something on Twitter and Facebook, which I don’t normally do, but we were in a pretty tough spot, and it seemed like it blew up pretty quickly. It was a little bit viral,” said Dunfee. “It reached all corners of the country almost and I got call after call. Then some local people who knew guys sent me some names.”

After the post, the Copperheads added five pitchers within two days.

Jacob Ladley is one the new pitchers on the team trying to make a name for himself on the mound.

Ladley, from Piedmont International University in North Carolina, said he was working on his craft all summer, waiting for a chance to play. He also had a job for a lawn care company, cutting grass 9 to 10 hours a day.

After Dunfee reached out to him, he had to drive seven-and-a-half hours on a Thursday to pitch the next night for the Cheads.

He said the transition from working out and cutting grass wasn’t too difficult of a change, but he was not ready for the everyday struggles that come with pitching in a collegiate summer league.

“Going from cutting grass, and I’ll go lift weights and all that, but as a pitcher, I’m using literally every muscle in my body to be able to go out and do what I need to do, to go out and succeed and execute on the mound,” said Ladley. “Even throwing two innings on Friday, I woke up the next day and there was soreness all over.”

With all the changes and situational decisions being made by Dunfee, he still believes his team has a chance to get a championship ring.

“If we stick around and keep battling the way we have all summer long, we’ve got a chance to make the postseason and got a chance to win the whole thing too.”

The Copperheads last game of the season is on July 23. They are a half-game back of a playoff spot in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate Summer League South Division.