It’s officially game week. Maryland baseball will take on Campbell on Friday to kick off the 2019 season — the second year under head coach Rob Vaughn.
Our countdown has now taken us through all four positional previews: the starting pitchers, the bullpen and the infield and the outfield. Now, let’s preview our top five series of the upcoming season.
5. Creighton University (March 22-24)
Location: Omaha, Neb.
Maryland travels to the site of the College World Series when they battle Creighton in Omaha. The Bluejays, out of the Big East, have played in the state-of-the-art facility that is TD Ameritrade Park since 2011. A dream for any collegiate ball player is to play at this field, and the Terps get this opportunity in late March.
This is an irregular matchup on Maryland’s schedule, having not faced off against the Bluejays in over 20 years. This will be yet another test for the Terps against a team that had a 34-16 record but did not qualify for any postseason play.
4. Stetson University (March 8-10)
Location: DeLand, Fla.
The Terps will have to fend off a redemption series when they travel down to the Sunshine State to battle it out in a three-game weekend series with Stetson. Maryland took two out of three a year ago against Stetson in College Park, but the Hatters lasted longer into the spring, making it to the NCAA Super Regionals. They also finished atop the Atlantic Sun conference last spring. This out-of-conference matchup is a key series for the Terps as they shape the beginning of their year.
A likely starter in the series will be Stetson’s Mitchell Senger. The junior southpaw was named to the Preseason All-American Team. He also earned a spot on the Golden Spikes Watch List, the top award in college baseball.
3. University of Minnesota (May 10-12)
Location: Minneapolis, Mn.
The Terps will face one of the best perennial teams in the Big Ten in a three-game series against Minnesota. Conference tournament champions last spring, the Golden Gophers made it to a Super Regional last season in what was a dominating year, finishing with a record of 44-15.
The weekend series will take place in Minneapolis in mid-May. It’ll be another late-season test for the Terps, who might be making a similar postseason push as last year at the time of this series.
2. University of Michigan (May 3-5)
Location: College Park, Md.
A showdown between two Big Ten teams will bring Erik Bakich back to his former home. The Michigan head coach is returning to College Park for only the second time since he left the position as head coach for the Terps in 2012. The Wolverines swept the Terps a season ago in Ann Arbor, winning the only two games that the teams squared off.
In 2017, when Bakich and the Wolverines came into College Park, the Terps took two of three from a ranked Michigan squad. It was a huge series for a Terps team that narrowly made the NCAA tournament that year.
With a 15-8 conference record a season ago, Michigan will be an immense challenge for the Terps when they begin to round out the regular season.
1. Eastern Carolina University (March 15-17)
Location: College Park, Md.
The biggest series of the 2019 season is a mid-March showdown at home against Eastern Carolina University. Ranked No. 11 in the D1baseball preseason rankings coming off a 44-18 season, the Pirates are the premier team in the American Athletic Conference.
Last season, Maryland played a three-game set at East Carolina and were swept and outscored 26-4. The Pirates went on to host an NCAA Regional, but lost two of three games to end their season.
A name to watch for is Bryant Packard, a junior at ECU. He was named a preseason first team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. As an early-season out-of-conference series, this daunting task could turn into a rewarding experience if the Terps can pull off an upset against a ranked foe.