Doughman thriving in summer league in Florida
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Cooper Doughman is making quite a splash in the Sunshine State.
Doughman, a Troup High graduate, is spending his summer playing for the Sarasota Tigers of the Florida Gulf Coast League, and he’s been getting it done with a bat in his hands, and behind the plate as the catcher.
Doughman stayed hot with two hits and an RBI during a loss on Monday, and he has four hits with two home runs in his past two games.
Doughman has played in nine games, and he has 10 hits with nine RBIs, all while manning the catcher position during the dog days of summer.
For Doughman, the opportunity to play summer baseball against high-quality competition is particularly valuable since his freshman season as a college player was cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Doughman played in 20 games for Chattahoochee Valley Community College before the season was canceled.
Fortunately for Doughman, he was able to resume playing baseball after about three months when the Florida Gulf Coast League opened its season.
“Being able to see live arms before you go back to school is huge,” Doughman said. “I’m supposed to be going back home July 30, and then I leave to go back to school on the seventh of August. Definitely getting to see live arms for two months before I go back is going to help me out a lot.”
For the moment, Doughman is focused on getting the job done for a Sarasota team that has won three of its past four games to improve to 7-4.
Doughman has been one of Sarasota’s most consistent offensive players.
His best game came in a 10-1 victory on Friday when he banged out two home runs while driving in four runs.
Doughman has had two other multi-hit games, he had a double in two RBIs in another game, and he has been on base at least once in all but one game he’s played in.
The numbers are particularly impressive considering the caliber of pitching Doughman has faced.
In recent games, Doughman has faced one of LSU’s top starting pitchers, as well as Virginia’s closer.
“They both topped out at 95 against us when we saw them,” Doughman said. “It’s a lot of good competition down here for sure.”
Doughman has also enjoyed being playing alongside some elite players from big-time programs including Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina and Tennessee.
“We have a lot of great arms, a lot of big-name players on our team,” Doughman said.
Overall, Doughman said “it has probably been the most fun summer I’ve ever had. I’ve made a lot of great new friends. There are a bunch of good guys down here on the team.”
Doughman signed with Chattahoochee Valley Community College following an exceptional prep career at Troup.
Craig Garner, Troup’s baseball coach, appreciated Doughman’s leadership skills from the all-important catcher position.
“He kind of holds it together, and he’s the voice of reason,” Garner said at Doughman’s signing ceremony. “He is truly one of those guys where the highs are not that high, and the lows are not that low. That’s what you want out of your catcher. You want your catcher to be the general on the field.”
During his abbreviated freshman season at CVCC, Doughman had four hits and two RBIs.
CVCC was preparing for a home game against Enterprise State when the players found out the season was over.
While it was a shortened season, Doughman enjoyed being around other players who take the sport as seriously as he does.
“When you get there, you’re expected to know how to play ball,” Doughman said. “You’re expected to know how to do the little things right. You go over it one time, and you’ve got to pick up on it quick, or you’re going to fall behind fast.”
All of the players, Doughman included, are looking to do as well as they can in hopes of landing a roster spot on a four-year program down the road.
“At the junior-college level, everybody is there to get picked up,” Doughman said. “You have to go through the whole recruiting process again. You’re going to weed out the ones who don’t want to be there.”
Part of the reason Doughman picked Chattahoochee Valley was because he knew he would face high-caliber pitching every game.
“We’ve seen everybody’s number one arm every single day,” Doughman said. “That’s a credit to our coach for building the program the way he did. Everybody throws their best against us. I wouldn’t want to go to a school where I wasn’t going to see good arms.”