E.A. Sports Today

‘Ate up with it’

Injury in baseball turned focus to golf, and Oxford’s Cochran turned hard work into chance to play for Snead State Community College.

Cover photo: Oxford’s Brayden Cochran poses with Snead State Community College golf coach Sam Holcomb during Monday’s ceremony to celebrate Cochran’s signing. (Photo by Joe Medley)

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Sports injuries happen. Sometimes, they just might happen for a reason.

Oxford High’s Brayden Cochran celebrated the possibilities in Monday’s ceremony to mark his signing to play golf for Snead State Community College.

Cochran made golf more of a focus two years ago, when an elbow injury altered his course. At the time, he played baseball and football and golf with his dad during the summers.

The injury occurred during baseball season in his freshman year. The former pitcher and outfielder said it started hurting while pitching and worsened while making throws from the outfield.

“I’m not really sure what it was,” he said. “I just knew when I was throwing, it would swell up. I stopped pitching because it hurt so bad. Eventually, it got to hurting real bad.”

Brayden Cochran’s memorabilia table for Monday’s ceremony to celebrate his signing with Snead State Community College. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Cochran elected to give up baseball rather than have surgery. Meanwhile, Jeff Bain, Cochran’s middle-school baseball coach, took over Oxford High’s golf program.

Cochran had played golf with his father over the summers.

“I decided I’d try out golf,” he said. “My main sport at the time was football, any way, 

“I went out there, and I was always a good ball striker. Once I learned how to play the game, I really started to enjoy it.”

Chad Cochran, Brayden’s father and Oxford’s defensive coordinator in football, worked connections he made during two seasons at Mountain Brook to get his son instruction. Brayden worked with Mountain Brook Country Club director of golf Jeff Jordan.

Brayden took off from there and progressed enough that he arrived at another tough decision … giving up football.

He played football as a junior. He knew Oxford would have a good team during his senior year, and the new Champions Athletic Center was under construction.

He called the decision “a heartbreaker” but knew he needed to focus on golf.

“Coming into my senior year, I was getting really good in golf,” he said. “I knew, if I had an offseason, I had a chance to get an offer.”

He played two tournaments in a two-week span, including an Alabama Junior Golf Association tourney in Jasper. He shot a 73 and lost in a playoff.

A day later, Snead State golf coach Sam Holcomb. Brayden got a tryout and held his own in nine holes with Snead’s top two golfers.

“He offered me on the spot,” Brayden said.

Bain said Brayden’s rapid rise in golf came as no surprise, once Brayden poured focus and grind into his game.

“There will not be a guy that will work harder to achieve a goal than what Brayden did,” Bain said. “Whether it was hitting 10,000 range balls in one afternoon, and you’d have to run him off the course, and the course would give him buckets of sand to make his divots back, and he would take off and walk.

“Daylight to dark, he was ate up with it, and today is a testament to what hard work can get you.”

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