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Young Terps baseball has bright future

By: Anirudh Sridhar

Terps baseball

After back-to-back appearances to the NCAA Super Regionals, the Maryland Terps baseball team lost a lot of their veteran leaders.

Six starters from their team either graduated or was drafted by the MLB, leaving the lineup with a lot of holes. Fortunately for Maryland, great recruiting by head coach John Szefc resulted in the 17th best class according to D1Baseball.com.

Picked to win the Big Ten conference before the season started, the Terps have been inconsistent throughout the season. Currently, the Terps have 25 underclassmen, freshman and sophomores, on the roster and only 10 upperclassmen.

Leading up to this past weekend’s series against Illinois, Terps freshman left fielder Marty Costes led all Big Ten freshman with eight home runs and 32 RBI’s. He has also won two Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors this season.

Freshman Nick Dunn has been a force for the Terrapins this season. Before the Illinois series, he led all Big Ten freshman with 35 runs scored and is the first player in Maryland history to win two Big Ten weekly honors in the same week after winning the Big Ten Player and freshman of the week honors in the same week in March.

Not just at the plate, the Terps have gotten great contribution from their freshmen from the mound, especially from right-hander Hunter Parsons. Parsons is 2-0 on the season in three starts, and has a 3.42 ERA. Three weekends ago when the Terps had a home series against Purdue one of their usual weekend starters went down with an injury and Parsons stepped up and pitched the Terps to a win.

Despite the huge contribution from the freshmen, the sophomores on the team are really guiding the ship for the Terps. Some of them have super regionals experience, and are showing it during the season.

“I think a lot of our experienced really put is on us to do that (step up) and come through for the team. Just to make sure we’re ready and focused when that time (pressure situation) comes and kin of be ready for it and not really see it as a pressure situation,” shortstop Kevin Smith said.

Smith was named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team last season, and is now named to the Brooks Wallace Award Watch list, given to the nation’s best shortstop. In the weekend series against Illinois, Smith hit a huge three-run home run to give the Terps a win in the second game of that series.

“If you’re going to be good down the stretch, your older players have to play well, guys like Papio, guys like Smith,” Szefc said. “Even though Smith’s a sophomore, Selmer, they’re experienced guys even though they’re not old guys. They’ve played in the super-regionals before, their mindset is more of an older mindset.”

Along with Smith, sophomore pitchers Brian Shaffer and Taylor Bloom have risen to the occasion and have become dominant weekend starters for Maryland. With the early struggles by ace right-hander Mike Shawaryn, Bloom and Shaffer stepped up to get Maryland some key wins.

Bloom boasts a 1.99 ERA, and has thrown five complete games. Shaffer has a 2.97 ERA and has thrown two complete games himself. With a shaky and inconsistent bullpen the Terps have this season, starters going the distance has been crucial for the team.

The sophomore who has shown the most improvement, offensively and defensively has been first-baseman Kevin Biondic. He leads the team in batting avg. at .307 and on-base percentage at .418, and his defense at first base has been impeccable.

“He got a lot of experience last year playing with the older guys. He played in some big-time postseason games,” Szefc said. “He kind of plays first base like a hockey goalie. He’s on his knees a lot and doesn’t pick balls like a traditional first baseman would, but he gets it done. ”

With a talented and young team that is coming together now, both the present and the future of Maryland baseball looks bright.

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Anirudh Sridhar

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