Sports

Cockroft pitches his way back into starting rotation with crucial wins

Head Coach Jim Morris found himself more than just a pitcher when J.D. Cockroft came to one of the pitcher/catcher camps a few years back. Cockroft has become Miami’s most consistent pitcher, whether it is out of the bullpen or in the starting rotation.

From Foster City, Calif., Cockroft attended Bellarmine College Prep, the same high school that produced former Hurricane great Pat Burrell.

Although Cockroft, a senior, has won the Ron Fraser Award the past two seasons for being the ‘Canes’ top pitcher, he was demoted from the No. 1 starting job at the beginning of the season. After a tough 3-0 loss to Florida on opening night in which his team got him no run support, things went downhill in a hurry and Morris put him in the bullpen. Cockroft took the switch hard.

“It really hurt,” Cockroft said. “Being the number one [starter]had been my goal ever since I got here and it seemed like everything I worked for was going down the drain.”

After five appearances out of the bullpen, a spot in the rotation opened up when Morris felt that starter Dan Touchet needed a couple weeks of rest due to a dead arm. Cockroft has taken full advantage of his opportunity.

“I think I pitched my way back into the role,” Cockroft said. “I’m pitching the best I’ve really pitched in a really long time. It really feels great to be back out there to set the tone for the series.”

His first start back in the rotation was against Florida State, where he went seven innings and only allowed three hits, as Miami shutout the Seminoles 10-0.

“I think I pitched my way back into the role. I’m pitching the best I’ve really pitched in a really long time. It really feels great to be back out there to set the tone for the series” -J.D. Cockroft

When watching Cockroft out on the mound, one immediately realizes that he isn’t a typical lefty pitcher. He doesn’t come after hitters with overpowering fastballs. Instead, he throws slow curveballs that drop out of the zone and changeups that are able to baffle even the best hitters in the country. Cockroft has always heard that he might not have what it takes to be a great pitcher, but he has proved skeptics wrong time and time again.

“I’ve been hearing that I wasn’t going to make it ever since I was a little kid,” Cockroft said. “But I took everything they said and made it fuel my desire to prove them wrong.”

Cockroft feels that there are benefits to not throwing as hard as some other pitchers. These help him when he’s out there on the mound starting, where he prefers to be.

“I’m the kind of pitcher that has good endurance,” Cockroft said. “I don’t throw as hard as the other guys do, but I feel it is an asset to me because I can go longer in games.

Cockroft takes every game the same way. Whether it is the last game of the College World Series or a midweek game against Campbell, he treats it as if the season is on the line. Morris feels that Cockroft has been a special part of his ball club during the past four years.

“He’s done a great job for us. No matter what role we’ve asked him to do, he has gotten it done,” Morris said. “He’s a captain for us, which makes him a leader on the field and off the field. He’s really a great kid.”

Cockroft gets the call Friday, as the No. 5 Hurricanes take on the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the opening game of a three-game set.

-Doug Kroll can be contacted at d.kroll@umiami.edu.

April 30, 2004

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

University of Miami coach Mark Richt apparently is a fan of President Teddy Roosevelt’s — or at leas ...

If there was one freshman the Miami Hurricanes knew would have to help entering the season, Brevin J ...

Not only has Gerald Willis been one of the best stories of the Miami Hurricanes’ season, he has also ...

The Miami Hurricanes started the season No. 8 nationally in both major polls. Now, they’re nowhere t ...

With a bye week on the horizon, the meager University of Miami offense has nearly two weeks to attem ...

Fareed Zakaria, a CNN host, journalist and author, tells UM students that global pressures are makin ...

The program, in which UM students mentor high school students, aims to get first generation students ...

Dr. Ralph Sacco, a top neurologist and researcher at the University of Miami Miller School of Medici ...

U.S. Congresswoman and Chairman Emerita of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ileana Ros-Lehtine ...

Nearly 400 students participate in the National Gandhi Day of Service, the largest annual service da ...

The Miami Hurricanes volleyball team improved to 10-5, 6-2 in the ACC, with a 3-0 sweep of Boston Co ...

The Miami women's tennis team closed the Bedford Cup with a perfect day, winning each match in ...

"In The Pool" is a series highlighting the University of Miami swimming & diving stude ...

Playing in front of a boisterous home crowd, the University of Miami soccer team earned a, 1-1, draw ...

The Hurricanes fell in their ACC road opener to the Virginia Cavaliers. ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.