Last year, Maryland baseball won the Big Ten regular-season title for the first time in school history and hosted the first-ever College Park Regional, ultimately falling to UConn, 11-8, in the regional final. This season, Maryland brings back many players from last year, all hungry for a trip to Omaha and the College World Series, a feat that the program has never accomplished.
This goal is not out of reach for the Terps, as they appear in every top 25 preseason media ranking. Most notably, they were ranked No. 13 by D1Baseball, the highest they’ve ever been ranked in the preseason. D1Baseball also ranked the 2022 Terps as the second-best offense in the country, and while they have lost some key pieces, Maryland has prepared itself to make a run.
Maryland lost a handful of impact players to the MLB following the 2022 season. Those players include Chris “Bubba” Alleyne, Troy Schreffler Jr., Maxwell Costes and Ryan Ramsey.
Alleyne was the heart and soul of the Terps’ 2022 roster, being named Big Ten Player of the Year. Alleyne was also nominated as a First Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America and NCBWA. The center fielder was a monster at the plate, batting .333 with a slugging percentage of .673 and 24 homers, which set the Maryland single-season record.
Schreffler Jr. was another stud at the dish for Maryland, being one of their biggest threats in the lineup last season and battening down the hatches in the outfield alongside Alleyne. Schreffler Jr. batted .340 and drove in 57 runs in 2022. In the field, Schreffler Jr. recorded a total of 128 putouts with only three errors — a .978 fielding percentage.
Ramsey etched his name into the Maryland and NCAA record books, as he threw the second perfect game in program history and the 20th nine-inning no-hitter in NCAA history on April 29, 2022, against Northwestern. Ramsey served as the Terps’ most reliable starting pitcher.
During the offseason, Maryland signed several key offensive transfers, including fifth-year outfielder Matt Woods (Bryant), sophomore centerfielder Elijah Lambros (South Carolina) and sophomore infielder Eddie Hacopian (Cypress College).
Woods was a dominant force for Bryant last year, slashing .384/.458/.635 with an OPS of nearly 1.100 en route to being named the Northeast Conference Player of the Year. Woods quickly made himself known on the Terps with two RBIs and several hits in Maryland’s scrimmage against West Virginia last October and is slated to play in the outfield for the Terps this year.
The two other notable transfers coming in are both sophomores, relatively young by this team’s standards, but looking to make an immediate impact this year. At Cypress College, Eddie Hacopian had over an OPS over .900 and a .387 batting average, being named First Team All-OEC his freshman year. The other transfer, Elijah Lambros, is slated to play center field for the Terps after a limited role with South Carolina. Lambros did not get many plate appearances as a freshman for the Gamecocks but looks to thrive in his new role for the Terps.
The Terps also bolstered their pitching staff this year, bringing in several transfers to improve their bullpen and allow for their rotation to get much-needed rest.
Transfers Kenny Lippman (Denison) and Nate Haberthier (Ohio State) could both fit in as a fourth starter, and junior transfer Tommy Kane (Rowan) could be used as much-needed reliever for the Terps. Lippman in particular is looking to improve upon his Division III All-American season at Denison College, where he had a 1.56 ERA and 98 strikeouts.
Top offensive returners
The biggest thing going for the Terps is their dynamic offense, which was ranked No. 2 in the country by D1Baseball last year. Despite losing Alleyne, Schreffler Jr. and Costes, Maryland returns five All-Big Ten players from last year, all of which had over a .920 OPS and double-digit home runs.
Senior Bobby Zmarzlak and Nick Lorusso and junior Kevin Keister return for the Terps. All three of them had very good offensive seasons and all are slated to return to the lineup. Sophomore Ian Petrutz returns from a limited role last year, showing promise after batting .324 and hitting nine home runs in 133 plate appearances.
The two biggest factors for the Terps are junior catcher Luke Shilger and junior shortstop Matt Shaw, both preseason All-Americans.
Shilger led the team in OPS last year, along with many other offensive metrics. He also leads off for the Terps, which is out of the ordinary for a catcher, yet Shliger fills the role well with great plate discipline as well as being a constant threat to get on base. Shliger was also named D1Baseball’s No. 1 catcher for 2023.
Shaw also performed well last year, with 22 home runs and a slash line of .290/.381/.604. He has seen lots of praise from the media due to his performance last summer, as he was named MVP of the Cape Cod League after leading the league in on-base percentage and hitting .360 for the league champion Bourne Braves. Shaw also was named Perfect Game USA’s Player of the Summer and D1Baseball's third-ranked shortstop in the nation. Shaw has been labeled as a first-round prospect in several MLB mock drafts and is one of Maryland’s most important players this year.
Pitching depth was a concern for the Terps last season and continues to be a bit of a question mark heading into the season. Head coach Rob Vaughn has brought over multiple transfers and freshmen, but they have yet to prove themselves on the Big Ten stage.
Maryland is going to have a legitimate one-two punch in the starting rotation with Jason Savacool and Nick Dean. Dean and Savacool threw a haul of innings last season and again will be the guys that the Terps will look toward to help pick up wins on Friday and Saturday.
Savacool was a workhorse last season, notching a 2.93 ERA in 107.2 innings. He has a solid repertoire that features a sinker that tops out in the low 90s and frequently generates weak contact. He also has a slider which is an effective two-strike pitch. Savacool was ranked the 10th-best pitcher in the nation by D1Baseball and a preseason All-American.
Dean worked on upping his velocity over the offseason and is currently topping at 95 miles per hour and consistently sitting around 93-94. If he is able to locate his fastball early in the count, it will make his off-speed much more effective.
True freshman Kyle McCoy looks to replace Ryan Ramsey in the rotation as the Sunday starter. McCoy was the 17th-best left-handed pitching prospect in the class of 2022 and received a 9.5 rating from Perfect Game USA. McCoy’s fastball currently tops at 91 miles per hour, but scouts describe his slider and changeup as his best weapon. Perfect Game USA described him as a “deceptive pitcher with tons of upside,” and he saw success against West Virginia but some struggles against Virginia in the fall.
Once the starters exit, expect guys like Lippman, Kane, and David Falco to come in in the back end of the games to close them out.
Maryland’s first four weeks are not easy, but one of its biggest tests this season is undoubtedly their road series against reigning national champion Ole Miss.
According to Vaughn, he didn’t think he’d be scheduling the reigning national champions when he booked an away series at Ole Miss, but both he and his players seem unfazed by this challenge.
But Ole Miss isn’t their only tough opponent, as the Terps face several road and home challenges during the first few months of the season. Notable opponents include a home game against top 50 RPI opponent West Virginia, away series at South Florida and UCF, and another game against Ole Miss as well as one against No. 7 Vanderbilt at the Cambria College Classic.
As for the rest of the schedule, many projections show Maryland as the runaway favorite for the Big Ten, with Rutgers and Iowa the only other projected NCAA Tournament qualifiers by D1Baseball. Big Ten baseball has historically been underwhelming from a national perspective, but Maryland still has not won a Big Ten Tournament, coming closest in its appearance in the championship in 2015. Last year, the Terps were upset by Indiana and Michigan in the conference tournament. This Maryland team has a chance to make history again if it can win the games it is supposed to in Big Ten play.