The sources describe Wichita State pitcher Jordan Cooper as an efficient, take-care-of-business person, and that's what makes him great.
Low maintenance, on and off the field. Boring, if you're looking for something beyond "throwing three pitches for a strike" anecdotes.
So you must go to the roommate to get the story that shows Cooper isn't totally a strike-throwing, grade-making machine.
He is, with one or two exceptions. There was the time this season when Cooper forgot his glove on a night he started. He sent a teammate to his house to get it for him.
"He was so into the game — we joke with him that he's just dumb enough to be the greatest pitcher here," Brian Flynn said. "He walks around, and all he thinks about is pitching."
If that's all Cooper thinks about, it is time well spent.
He starts tonight for WSU (35-18) against Dallas Baptist (28-24) on a roll that ranks with any in Shocker history. Cooper, a sophomore right-hander from Berryton, is working on a streak of 27 1/3 scoreless innings and is closing in on Terry Hayes' 1980 record of 30 2/3. He is coming off a six-hit shutout of Missouri State on Friday, a game in which he struck out a career-high 14.
"Anytime you pitch as well as I have, you've got to have good defense behind you," Cooper said. "I've certainly had a lot of help."
Cooper is 8-2 with a 1.61 ERA and leads the Shockers with 79 strikeouts, with a paltry 19 walks in 89 1/3 innings. At Eck Stadium, his numbers are even better — a 1.27 ERA with 45 strikeouts and two walks in 49 2/3 innings.
"You throw on this mound in intrasquads and you've got people cheering for you — every inning is like the ninth inning against Missouri State," he said. "It makes a big difference."
That's Cooper — calm, composed, mature, efficient and spreading around the credit. He stays away from fast food, eats grilled chicken, does his running and more, lives on the honor roll and wants to follow in his father's footsteps and be a lawyer.
"A coach's dream," WSU pitching coach Brent Kemnitz said.
Cooper can throw around 90 mph, but he's not going to blow hitters away. He does his job with precision and location. He started in WSU's weekend rotation as a freshman, always improving and rarely faltering.
"He came in really advanced," Kemnitz said. "His command has gotten better. He has tightened up his breaking ball. He has better feel and better command with his changeup."
Cooper is also blessed with an understanding of the game. He is the model for Shocker pitchers to follow in controlling runners and fielding his position. He can vary his delivery and pickoff attempts to slow would-be base stealers. His quickness and coordination make it difficult to bunt or slip groundballs past him.
Cooper's composure allows him to use those gifts. He is rarely rattled, able to refocus immediately after a bad pitch. Innings don't spiral out of control with Cooper on the mound.
"My dad worked with me a lot on that," he said. "You can't worry about the umpire making a bad call or somebody making an error behind you. If you get upset about something silly, it's just going to make things snowball."
Cooper wasn't always that composed.
"If you ask my dad, I would get pretty upset when I was little," he said. "I'd get mad and I would try to throw as hard as I could. That doesn't work against better hitters."
The constant study of those hitters also sets Cooper apart. Flynn, also a pitcher, says Cooper is well-known for going through the lineup on the bus ride and predicting how at-bats will unfold. Once he sees a hitter, he knows how to attack them.
"He will carve up hitters the way he does because he's always thinking about it," Flynn said. "He liked facing (Ben) Carlson from Missouri State last year, because he faced him in high school. He knew he liked to yank things down the line. Sure enough, he had an oh-fer, and it was because he remembered how he pitched him and went back to it."
Cooper could be approaching the end of his WSU career. He is a draft-eligible sophomore because of his age (he turned 21 earlier this month). He knows the process after being picked in the 17th round by Boston in 2008.
"I try not to think about it too much — if you get caught up in that and it can affect your play," he said. "I'm trying to go out and win baseball games."
Kemnitz expects Cooper to make a sound decision for the right reasons, just as he has in other areas the past two years.
"I would love to have him back," Kemnitz said. "But at the same time I told him I want him to be happy and do what works out best for him. I think he's open-minded. I think he would love to come back, but if the situation is right he wouldn't be opposed to signing."