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Cooper Duncan excelling on the mound for the Alcovy Tigers
Cooper Duncan Feature 2024
Cooper Duncan (10) leads all Alcovy pitchers with a 1.56 earned run average and 30 strikeouts. - photo by Andrew Mills

Through 14 games, Alcovy’s Cooper Duncan seems to be the main man in the Tigers’ pitching rotation.

Duncan leads the team in appearances with six, and the junior has a 1.56 earned run average (ERA) while being 4-0 in his starts.

For Duncan, the strong start to the season is a result of just putting the ball in the zone.

“[It was] location. I wanted better location,” Duncan said. “Last year, I was around 50-55 percent strikes. This year, I am around 65 percent already. That was a big part of it, just working on strike zone percentage.”

Working in the zone and pitching with more control are areas where Alcovy head coach Kareem Hayes felt Duncan has taken a step up during the 2024 season.

“Cooper has definitely improved from last year. He is commanding the strike zone a lot more. [He is] commanding his fastball and his offspeed. He is definitely dominating on the mound right now. He is looking good. He has had a lot of good outings for us.”

The effort to have better location in the zone has translated to the stat sheet for Duncan. The junior has struck out 30 batters on the year while only allowing 10 walks.

Limiting walks has been a goal for Duncan, who aims to have “less than 20 walks on the season.”

So far, Duncan's best performances have come in Region 3-AAAAAA play.

In Alcovy’s game against Morrow on March 11, Duncan pitched only four innings due to the Tigers winning 15-0 via mercy rule. The limited innings did not stop Duncan from striking out eight batters while only allowing two hits.

Less than a week later, Duncan had another complete-game shutout when Alcovy went on the road to play Lovejoy. Against the Wildcats, Duncan struck out seven batters while only allowing three hits through seven innings.

Duncan discussed how he is working with a three-pitch mix this season, consisting of a fastball, curveball and a change up. Though he stated that he sticks with “mainly fastball-curve,” the junior has also been working on adding a slider to his repertoire.

Though he has multiple pitches, Duncan believes that a well-located heater is his best pitch.

“One strike to get a guy out, I would have to go with my best located pitch — a low and away fastball,” Duncan said.

There are many people in the game of baseball that Duncan takes notes from and learns from. This includes one of his teammates — Reece Payne.

“He [Reece] is a type of guy where, when he is on, he is probably the nastiest pitcher we have at Alcovy,” Duncan said. “He has a lot of arm-side run with a nasty curveball. I like to try to copy him.”

In the major leagues, Duncan likes to model his game after Atlanta’s hard-throwing starter.

“I like [Spencer] Strider,” Duncan said. “I definitely don’t throw as hard as he does, but I like to try to act like I do. I like the way he goes after guys with his fastball. I try to copy that.”

Amid a breakout year, Duncan attributes the success to just having fun while playing the game he loves.

“Just staying in my lane, keeping my cool up there and having fun. Those are the main things,” Duncan said. “I like to have fun when I am up there. I’ll talk to myself — I’ll even go talk to the third baseman, Brandon, mid-pitch.”