Jake Cockerham began his duties as head softball coach in August 2018 following four years as the assistant coach.
Cockerham as an assistant softball coach
The Tornado rolled off seven straight wins at the beginning of April to start their run at the 2018 conference title. King finished fourth in the regular season standings, but rolled through the Conference Carolinas Championship, coming from the losers bracket to defeat third seed North Greenville 15-2 and 7-0 in the championship games. At the NCAA Southeast Regional, King fell to top-ranked North Georgia but came back with a 4-2 win in 10 innings over Queens (N.C.), for their first-ever NCAA Tournament win. The Tornado followed that with a 2-0 win over Coker before falling to North Georgia in the regional final. Hannah Riddle became the first Tornado to be selected first team All-Southeast Region, earning that distinction from the NFCA and D2CCA. Jenna Burnett earned second team All-Southeast Region honors from both organizations. Riddle was also selected Conference Carolinas Player of the Year.
Cockerham helped lead the Tornado to a fourth place finish in the Conference Carolinas standings with a league record of 15-5 in 2017. King went 32-19 overall, the second most wins in program history. The Tornado offense was one of the best in Conference Carolinas, leading the league with school records in hits (462), batting average (.324), on base percentage (.399) and slugging percentage (.450). The Tornado also led the league with 13 triples and hit by pitch with 46. On the defensive side, King ranked fourth in the league with a team earned run average of 2.98. Hannah Riddle and Kaycee Casteel became the first Tornado to be selected NFCA All-Region, garnering second team honors. King had six players earn All-Conference Carolinas honors.
In 2016, Cockerham helped lead a Tornado offense that ranked near the top of Conference Carolinas in numerous categories. King ranked second in the league in doubles (81), home runs (33) and batting average (.297). King also led the league with a slugging percentage of .434 and ranked third with an on base percentage of .361. However, the Tornado finished the season with an overall record of 19-31, going 10-12 in Conference Carolinas play. King won a pair of games in the conference tournament but came up short of reaching the final day. The Tornado had four players earn all-conference honors and Hannah Devotie was selected a CoSIDA Academic All-American.
In a season that was surrounded by weather delays, Cockerham helped lead King to an 18-27 overall mark, going 11-9 in Conference Carolinas play to earn the fourth seed the Conference Carolinas Tournament in 2015. In the first game of the tournament, the Tornado set a league record by scoring 21 runs in a 21-5 win over Erskine. However, the Tornado dropped their next two contests to end their season. King showed a solid defense all season, ranking second in NCAA Division II with an average of 0.6 double plays per game. Chrissy Melcher was named the Conference Carolinas Player of the Year and garnered first team all-conference while Morgan Lowe, Amber Palmer, and Hannah Smith joined her on the all-conference first team.
Cockerham as an assistant baseball coach
In 2013, Cokerham guided a Tornado offense that finished third in Conference Carolinas in runs (351), hits (510), doubles (106) and home runs at 40. King also finished second in the league with 309 runs batted in and 214 walks. In five games at the Conference Carolinas Tournament, the Tornado ripped 10 home runs, and 12 doubles with 25 walks for a .290 batting average. Four position players were named second team All-Conference Carolinas after hitting over .300 on the year.
Cockerham helped build a lineup that in 2012 finished in the top-3 as a team in multiple offensive categories including runs scored (3rd), triples (1st), home runs (2nd), runs batted in (3rd), stolen bases (t-3rd), batting average (3rd), and slugging percentage (3rd). That offense helped King break into the league with a monster 22-3 win over Barton College in its first Conference Carolinas contest in the program’s history and was one of two 20-plus run games of the season.
Two position players earned Conference Carolinas All-Conference second team honors in 2012 after Stephen Mullins and Tyler Gaby had breakout seasons in their first wearing a King uniform. Dating back to the 2009-10 season, Cockerham began his coaching career on a high note when he helped the Tornado to an NCCAA World Series appearance where they were one win away from the championship game.
In 2011, the Cincinnati, Ohio native took a head coaching position with Patrick Henry High School in Glade Spring, Va. where he took the Rebels to a second place finish in the A Hogoheegee District with a three-game swing from the previous year’s finish. The Rebels advanced to the district tournament and earned a bid to regionals with continued success. That season, Cockerham had four players named to the All-District and two more named to the All-Region Team prior to his return to King.
Cockerham as a player
Cockerham began playing his collegiate baseball at the Miami University Hamilton where he spent two seasons with the Harriers. He set school records in single-season hits (71) and runs scored (54) in 2006 before transferring to King, where he was a three-year member of the varsity squad.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in sports management from King in 2009 and currently resides in Meadowview, Va.