COLLEGE PARK, Md. — If John Szefc had a say so in the college baseball ranking polls, it would be after every team in the Division 1 NCAA field put in their work between the lines. Entering his third season as the head coach of the University of Maryland Terrapins baseball program, Szefc finds his team sitting with the highest preseason ranking for Maryland in program history.
The Terps are No. 16 in Baseball America’s preseason rankings, released Monday, and received its premier all-time preseason ranking from D1Baseball.com, dropping in in at No. 14 in the site’s preseason rankings.
“The rankings are because of where we finished last year, and we look good on paper,” Szefc said. “It makes any coach or player feel good when people are recognizing our accomplishments, it’s a nice place to start. But until you start playing games, it doesn’t mean a lot. In the Big Ten conference we know that we are going to get peoples best coming in ranked like this, but we look forward to the competition.”
The Terps are the highest ranked Big Ten program this year bringing back Freshman All-Americans infielder Brandon Lowe (Suffolk, Va. /Nansemond River) and pitcher Mike Shawaryn (Carneys Point, N.J. /Gloucester Catholic) alongside steady starters Jose Cuas (Brooklyn, N.Y. /Grand Street Campus), Kevin Martir (Brooklyn, N.Y. /Grand Street Campus) and LaMonte Wade (Owings Mills, Md. /St. Paul).
“We didn’t lose one guy that we didn’t already know we were going to lose,” Szefc pointed out. “We expected to lose them and the plan that we put in place has worked out the way that we thought it would.”
College baseball writers across the nation were obligated to cover the Terps program after seeing the successes of the 2014 team. Maryland completed the year with its uppermost ranking in school history reach their zenith at No. 13 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. UM ended the season ranked 14th in the Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball News and Perfect Game polls, and moreover came in at No. 16 in the NCBWA Poll
Szefc has carved his name in Maryland baseball lore, accumulating 70 wins in just two seasons at the helm. A feat no other UM coach has matched over that stretch of time.
“We have been fortunate to keep our staff in place,” Szefc made clear. “Programs are the way they are because of stability in the coaching staff. It’s a big part of our success. This is the third year with the same coaching staff in place.”
There is quite a buzz around the college baseball world – particularly in the Big Ten – about this programs chance to succeed, not only in the conference but on a national level. Media and analyst nationwide will be tuned in to see the Terps 2015 exploits undividedly.
Action starts for UM at the Caravelle Resort Tournament Fri, Feb 13., vs Western Kentucky in Myrtle Beach, S.C., at 11:00 a.m.