A short time after it began, the coronavirus pandemic forced the CIF to cancel the rest of the spring sports season, which meant an abrupt ending to the high school careers of spring sports seniors around the central valley. As a way of honoring some of these outstanding seniors, our Sports Central team will be presenting a series of stories called “Senior Standouts” each Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday through the end of June.
CLOVIS, Calif. (KSEE) — Ask Clovis North pitcher Riley Cooper what he was looking forward to most about his senior season, and this is your answer.
“Everyone in the TRAC (Tri-Rivers Athletic Conference) was good, and I wanted to prove that we were the best team out there,” said Cooper.
Unfortunately, because of the coronavirus, we’ll never know if Cooper’s Broncos could have won their ultra-competitive league, or a Division I valley championship.
“It’s like you don’t know what you have until it’s gone,” added Cooper. “Because I’ve just been bored out of my mind.”
What cooper has, is one of the best left-handed arms in the state.
After spending his freshman year at Kingsburg, Cooper transferred to Clovis North, and started setting records.
He tied the school’s single-season strikeout record as a sophomore. He broke it as a junior. And he was on pace to shatter the career strikeout record when his senior season was cancelled after only ten games.
“He’s a one-of-a-kind. You don’t get a guy like him that often, especially a competitor,” said Jeff Prieto, the Clovis North head baseball coach. “And a guy that’s so fun to watch on the mound.”
Cooper signed with Pac-12 school Arizona back in November, but as a left-handed hurler whose fastball has reached 92 miles-per-hour on the radar gun, he’s already an intriguing big league prospect.
“Guys like him that have that ‘it factor.’ Those guys could end up in the big leagues,” said Prieto.
With the MLB draft in June being reduced to five rounds this year because of the virus, it seems more likely he would end up going to college first. But wherever he ends up, he’ll be carrying some great memories from Clovis North with him, even if he’ll always wonder how his high school career might have finished.
“That just sucks that we couldn’t do it (finish the season),” summed up Cooper. “Because I thought we were gonna make a run for our money.”