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Maryland baseball reflects on the short season it had, while bracing for the future

The Terps had won 10 of their first 15 games to start the 2020 season before it ended.


The Maryland baseball team started getting ready to face off against a tough opponent in TCU before the news broke.

On March 13 — the same day the Terps had their first game of the series against the Horned Frogs— the Big Ten made its decision to cancel all spring sports as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And just like that, the Terps’ 2020 season was over.

“It was a Thursday when we got to Texas and it was right before we went out to team dinner,” sophomore infielder Maxwell Costes said. “And [head coach Rob Vaughn] called us all into the meeting room and he said that he didn’t really have a lot of information, but he just knew the Big Ten was canceling the rest of the season.”

For Maryland — a team that had its best start to a season since 2015 at 10-5 — the panic over the spread of the coronavirus finished off what could’ve been a year to remember.

The cancellation of the season happened a week before the opening of Big Ten play, which was a home series scheduled against Michigan State slated for March 20.

The Terps were just beginning to show what they were capable of in after recruiting the seventh ranked recruiting class in the nation. Maryland won four of its last five games, but all of the team’s hopes came crashing down after the news.

“The whole thing happened so fast,” Vaughn said. “Everybody talks about the seniors and you feel for them for sure but it doesn’t change for freshmen, sophomores, juniors — those kids pour their heart and soul into this, and you kind of snap your fingers and it gets taken away.

“It was hard looking those kids in the eyes and breaking that news to them.”

Maryland had budding stars in the making in the early portion of the season such as redshirt freshman pitcher Sean Burke (2-0), who amassed 35 strikeouts over just 22 innings pitched.

Offensively, the team received strong starts to the year from junior outfielder Randy Bednar (.387 batting average, 16 RBIs) and junior outfielder Chris Alleyne (.333 batting average, 18 runs scored). Both players swung the bat exceptionally and carried the Terps at the plate.

The Terps also had senior pitcher Elliot Zoellner shine throughout the season with zero earned runs allowed through 11 innings pitched.

“It was just a complete shock, honestly,” Zoellner said of the season coming to a close. “It took awhile for me for it to set in with me honestly because I didn’t believe that at first.”

The NCAA Division I Council Coordination Committee decided that spring sport athletes would be granted an additional year of eligibility. Now, these seniors face an unpredictable future on the road ahead.

With just two other true seniors on the team besides Zoellner, these veterans face a tough decision after the short season: to stay, or to forgo their added year of eligibility.

“I’ve talked to some of the other seniors and we’d love to be around our boys another year,” Zoellner said. “So that’s on the table. For me personally, that would include graduate school and then I also have a job offer. So that’s on the table as well. And then the draft, so we’ll see what happens there, there’s so much unknown.”

Besides seniors, Maryland had its fair share of players up-and-down the lineup that were building off of a successful 2019 spring season such as Costes.

The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year was second in the nation in on-base percentage with an eye-opening .620 mark. Costes led the Terps with a .432 batting average, four home runs and a .750 slugging percentage.

“When you come to your sophomore year, you always hope that your whole all around game is improved,” Costes said. “I became much better mentally as a baseball player this year.

“Even though the season ended short, I ended the season doing very well for myself I’d like to say. I found a hitting mentality and a swing that really worked for me. I was becoming a much better defender physically.”

With no games left to play for the remainder of the 2020 spring season, the Terps will reside within their shells for the time being.

The only thing left to do now for the Maryland roster and coaching staff is to look ahead towards the future. All that remains are feelings of what this team could have accomplished, and what could’ve been.

“I really think this team’s best baseball was in front of them, you know, with this much youth as we have,” Vaughn said. “I really think this team had a chance to play their best baseball in April, in May. Obviously we’ll never know, it’s just gonna all be about kind of using what we learned this year and what experience we got and try to take that next step next season.”