Head Coach Ryan Copeland
In his fifth season as a coach at UIS, including his first in 2020 as the head coach
Built a pitching staff that has ranked in the top-16 in NCAA Division II and the best in the GLVC the last two seasons
Has coached four players in his career that have been drafted, including UIS’s Andrew Dean last season for UIS
Ryan Copeland is in his first season as the head coach of the UIS baseball team in 2020. He spent the last five seasons as the program’s pitching coach and recruiting coordinator.
In the four seasons since Copeland joined the UIS coaching staff, the Prairie Stars have gone 149-70-1 (.680). Over the last two years, he has built the top pitching staff in the GLVC, which has helped UIS go 88-26-1 (.770). UIS won the 2018 GLVC Regular Season Championship, and missed a second title by one game this past season. The Prairie Stars advanced to the 2019 GLVC Tournament Championship game. In NCAA postseason play, UIS has hosted the regional tournament in each of the past two seasons, and won its regional event last month, advancing to the NCAA Super Regionals for the first time.
This past season, UIS ranked 16th in NCAA Division II with a 3.83 ERA, was tenth in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings with a 10.1 mark, and ranked 17th with a 1.34 WHIP. In 2018, UIS had a 3.16 ERA which was sixth in the nation, and led NCAA Division II by allowing just 6.80 hits per nine innings. The Prairie Stars also ranked tenth that year with 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings and sixth with a 1.24 WHIP. All of those numbers for the past two years were the top marks in the GLVC.
Copeland has helped UIS pitcher earn nine all-GLVC honors, including five first-team members. This past season, he helped Andrew Dean become the GLVC Pitcher of the Year, and the first Prairie Stars pitcher to earn All-American honors. He also aided in the development of Dean who was selected in the 18th round of this year’s Major League Baseball draft.
Copeland’s role as the recruiting coordinator has also helped UIS have one of the top offenses in the nation the past two years. In 2018, UIS led NCAA Division II with 9.4 runs a game, and that team hit a national-best 104 homers. This past year, UIS ranked eighth in the nation with 8.4 runs a game, and the Prairie Stars were 21st with a .409 on-base percentage.
Copeland came to UIS after assisting his alma mater, Illinois State. With the Redbirds, Copeland managed pitchers during games as well as assisting with administrative duties. The Des Plaines native also served as the head coach of the Illinois Indians 18U travel team in the summer of 2014.
While a pitcher at Illinois State, Copeland was a four-year starter and letterwinner, and a two-time All-Missouri Valley Conference player. He finished his career as the all-time leader in innings pitched at Illinois State.
Upon graduating from Illinois State, Copeland was drafted in the 32nd round of 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals as a pitcher and spent three seasons with the organization, playing his final season with the Palm Beach Cardinals in 2012.
He finished his career with an 11-5 record, a 3.85 ERA, and 138 innings pitched. Copeland was named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year in 2010 as well as an Appalachian League Postseason All-Star. He was also recognized by the Cardinals organization as a MiLB St. Louis Cardinals Organization All-Star (2010) and the St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Month (July 2011).
Besides Dean, Copeland has coached three other MLB draftees while at Illinois State in Paul DeJong (3B, St. Louis Cardinals, 4th round), Will Headean (LHP, San Diego Padres, 13th round), and Ryan Koziol (RHP, San Francisco Giants, Free Agent). Under Copeland's watch, Jacob Hendren was named a First-Team All-MVC pitcher and Louisville Slugger Third-Team All-American.