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No. 13 Maryland baseball at South Florida preview

The Terps kick off their season in Tampa, Florida.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Maryland baseball kicks off its 2023 season in Tampa, Florida, Friday against the South Florida Bulls. Maryland’s last game was a tough loss to UConn in the first-ever College Park Regional last June, and the Terps are slated for another run to the NCAA Tournament this year.

The Terps are currently ranked No. 13 by D1Baseball, the highest they’ve been in the preseason in program history. They also bring back a lot of their roster from last year, including Luke Shilger and Matt Shaw, both ranked as top prospects in the upcoming MLB draft.

Maryland’s biggest thing going for it is its electric offense, which returns five All-Big Ten players, all of whom had over a .900 OPS and double-digit home runs.

The Terps also return both Jason Savacool and Nick Dean to the rotation, and replace Ryan Ramsey with transfer Nate Haberthier (Ohio State), who is slated as the Sunday starter.

South Florida Bulls (0-0, 0-0 AAC)

2022 record: 28-29, 8-16 AAC

Maryland’s first opponent this season is not what it used to be. USF has seen recent success, making the Austin Super Regional in 2021, and had top-30 RPI rankings in both 2017 and 2018, but the Bulls struggled mightily last year. After getting of to an 18-7 start, they were plagued by injuries, ultimately finishing last in the American Athletic Conference and out of the top 150 in RPI. This year, USF is projected to do better and was voted to finish sixth in the AAC by the league’s coaches.

Head coach Billy Mohl returns for his ninth season for the Bulls, and has been instrumental in developing excellent pitchers through his tenure, with three pitchers drafted in the 2022 MLB Draft. Some have coined South Florida as the “Arm Barn,” producing plenty of MLB talent, including recent MLB All-Star Shane McClanahan of the Tampa Bay Rays.

That being said, there are many questions to how USF will fill its starting rotation after losing its top four pitchers, and the hope is that Maryland produces well against the starters before it faces USF’s bullpen.

Hitters to watch

Drew Brutcher, junior outfielder, No. 18 — Brutcher is a junior local product from Lakeland, Florida, and is the Bulls’ best hitter. D1Baseball has him listed at the top prospect out of the AAC, and he was named to the Preseason All-AAC Team. Brutcher has struggled with injuries throughout his career, but when he’s on the field he can make a big impact. In his 154 at-bats last year, he hit .299 with 13 home runs, also posting a walk percentage of 18.5%.

Jackson Mayo, sophomore outfielder, No. 4 — Mayo is another Florida product who could be an impact bat in the Bulls lineup. Mayo hit nine home runs last season with a .869 OPS and was an above-average hitter in his first collegiate season. While he strikes out more than average, he has enough power to punish pitchers.

Pitchers to watch

Hunter Mink, redshirt junior right-handed pitcher, No. 12 — Mink had the fourth-most strikeouts on the team last year and has a fastball that can reach up to 95 miles per hour. Mink was a force out of the bullpen in 2022, as he pitched the fourth-most innings on the team despite only starting one game. He could be used as a closer for a couple games in this series — he had nine saves last year.

Tanner Mink, redshirt junior right-handed pitcher, No. 24 — Hunter’s twin brother, Tanner, was also a solid piece out of the bullpen last season, having the third-lowest ERA on the team. While not posting the same historical volume that Hunter has, Tanner has a high-grade changeup in his three-pitch mix that could cause trouble. And while Tanner Mink isn’t seen as a closer, he is a very solid middle relief pitcher.


Offense. Outside of Butcher and Mayo, USF has several bats that could cause trouble for the Terps. Marcus Brodil and Bobby Bowser both could have an impact this year for the Bulls after gathering a year of experience. Also leading USF is Daniel Cantu, a junior who is a good hitter but more importantly a leader for a team opening spots up for younger players to flourish. There are enough guys in the Bulls’ lineup that it could give the Terps’ pitchers trouble, especially in Tampa.


Starting pitching. South Florida lost four pitchers to the MLB last season, and only one weekend starter returns this year, which would be Ethan Brown, a senior southpaw who had a 5.66 ERA in 2022. The Bulls’ starting depth is very questionable going into this weekend. Jackson Cothren and Austin Grause both have limited starter experience from last year, which could be used to the Terps’ advantage.

Three things to watch

1. What can we expect from the veterans? If Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn has made anything clear of late, it’s that his team has seen immense growth. One can see that in the team’s top two players, Matt Shaw and Luke Shilger, who have both received Preseason All-American honors after performing very well over the summer. But how will the rest of the team do?

The Terps return senior third baseman Nick Lorusso, senior outfielder Bobby Zmarzlak, junior second baseman Kevin Keister and sophomore Ian Petrutz, all impact bats. Last year their numbers were all very solid, and with Petrutz potentially seeing more plate appearances this year, they could be one of the one of the deepest lineups in college baseball again.

2. Can the transfers replace the departures? Maryland lost three key pieces of its offense to the draft in Chris “Bubba” Alleyne, Troy Schreffler Jr. and Maxwell Costes, all of whom were All-Big Ten players. To help replace them, the Terps brought in graduate outfielder Matt Woods (Bryant), sophomore infielder Eddie Hacopian (Cypress College), and sophomore outfielder Elijah Lambros (South Carolina). Maryland had the No. 2 offense in the country last year according to D1Baseball, and replicating that will be difficult.

3. Will Haberthier hold Sunday down? Nate Haberthier was slated as Sunday’s starting pitcher by Vaughn instead of freshman Kyle McCoy, which was a surprise to some. Vaughn said on Wednesday that he wanted to make sure McCoy was eased into the college game and that he is needed as depth come May and June. Haberthier is a graduate transfer from Ohio State and has plenty of experience pitching on the weekend, but he struggled last year with a 6.75 ERA and a 6.56 FIP, a pitching statistic independent of the play of fielders. He didn’t walk many batters but had an issue giving up home runs. Still, Haberthier brings much-needed depth to the Terps’ pitching staff.