As Maryland baseball walked off the field after its 9-6 loss to East Carolina University in the NCAA Tournament Regionals, many players held their heads in disappointment. But to the fans in College Park, it was a season that brought huge progress to the program.
The Terps were ranked in the D1Baseball top 25 for the first time in four years and earned an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 2017. As fans and students were piling back into Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium for the first time since the pandemic started, they were given a great baseball team to witness.
Now, after going 28-16 and finishing second in the Big Ten, there are expectations for another NCAA Tournament push surrounding newly extended head coach Rob Vaughn as his team stares down the barrel of a fully-loaded season schedule.
Key players lost
Maryland is returning a majority of its non-senior roster but lost two players to professional baseball.
The Chicago White Sox selected pitcher Sean Burke in the third round of the MLB Draft. During his redshirt sophomore season, he had the most strikeouts on the team last year with 107, the sixth most in a season in program history.
From the infield, the New York Yankees drafted Benjamin Cowles in the 10th round of the MLB draft. Cowles led the team in home runs last year with 18, was third on the team with 50 base hits, and was named a Third-Team All-American.
Out of the seniors, outfielder Randy Bednar and infielder Tommy Gardiner were a few losses to the batting rotation. Gardiner was a key piece of the infield last season, batting .248 with four home runs. He decided to come back and join the staff this season as Director of Player Development.
Bednar was the team captain last year who missed time due to injury, but still contributed seven home runs and batted .317. While not getting drafted, he signed with the Seattle Mariners as an undrafted free agent.
Top players returning
The Terps are returning all but three of the members of their starting lineup last year. They are led by sophomore second baseman Matt Shaw, senior first baseman Maxwell Costes, and fifth-year outfielder Chris Alleyne.
After a ridiculous freshman campaign, Shaw is coming into his sophomore season in College Park with some respect on his name. He was named to the preseason 2022 Collegiate Baseball All American Second Team and was ranked the sixth-best second baseman in the country by D1Baseball.com.
In his breakout season, Shaw led the starters in batting (.332), on-base hits (61), and he had seven home runs in 45 games starting as a freshman. His .332/.408/.543 slash line last year impressed many, as he looks to improve even more this season.
Even though his stats were down from his torrid start to the coronavirus-shortened season, first baseman Maxwell Costes enters his senior year as one of the leaders of this Terrapin team. He slashed .310/.512/.483 in 38 games last season, while also leading the team in walks with 33.
Costes is hoping to have a great infield partnership with Shaw and put on a show for scouts and fans entering one of his final years of eligibility.
After the loss of Bednar, the captain’s shoes will be filled by the man in the outfield Alleyne. One of the mainstays of the Terp’s squad last year, Alleyne was a Second Team All-Big Ten member while leading the conference in stolen bases with 22 and leading the team in runs scored 47.
With a lot of athleticism and hitting still left in his collegiate career, Alleyne hopes to keep up his form that helped Maryland’s tournament push last season.
Another outfielder who was mainly a designated hitter for the team last season is junior Bobby Zmarzlak. He was named to the 2021 NCAA Greenville Regional All-Tournament Team based on his performance at the plate during the tournament.
The Maryland pitching rotation features a lot of exciting talent even with Burke’s departure. They are led by Nick Dean, who had the best ERA among starters last season with 2.87 to go along with 3 wins and 1 loss. Named preseason Big Ten Pitcher of the Year by D1Baseball.com, Dean takes over for Burke as the Friday night starter.
Ryan Ramsey is making the shift from reliever to starter after having a scorching hot season in the bullpen. In 2021, Ramsey had the lowest ERA on the team (1.67) while going undefeated on the mound at 5-0 while throwing 53.1 innings on the season. If Ramsey can keep up his form as a starter, he might be the guy to watch on the hill this year.
Jason Savacool, who led the team with seven wins last year, is also looking to make an impact starting.
To try and maintain their form from last season, the Terps dipped into the transfer portal along with having the 40th ranked recruiting class according to Perfect Game to try and bring in some impactful fresh faces.
Nick Lorusso came over from Villanova to try and energize the hitting core after batting .306 in his junior season. He headlines the list of transfers this year.
Amongst the freshmen, Travis Garnett is the prospect to watch and the best newcomer in the bullpen. The left-handed pitcher was the fifth-ranked player in the state and he has a 93 mph fastball in his arsenal.
Joining him in the bullpen is Andrew Johnson, the seventh-ranked player in the state of Maryland last year as another left-handed pitcher. He hopes to join Garnett and develop into a star learning from studs at the position like Ramsey.
Finally on the list of notable new recruits is outfielder Zach Martin. The sixth-ranked player in the state joins Maryland to build on his legacy close to home.
While the expectations are high for this season, the Terrapins aren’t playing just conference opponents anymore, as was the case in last year’s coronavirus-impacted season.
Maryland still has to face those tough conference opponents including Michigan and Rutgers. Then on top of that, the Terps are faced with a game against No. 13 East Carolina, the team that knocked them out of the NCAA Tournament last season.
This is followed later in the season by a series against No. 22 Dallas Baptist, another tough matchup for Maryland.
But when winning occurs, there is always a drive for more. For this squad, a spot in the NCAA Tournament is theirs to fight for. No matter the circumstance, both the team and its fans now expect them to legitimately attempt to achieve this feat for the second consecutive season.