The Terps hosted their annual Spring Sports Media Day on Wednesday, including appearances from head coach Rob Vaughn and outfielder Randy Bednar.
Here are five takeaways from those interviews:
1. Everything matters, nothing is special
Those five words epitomize Vaughn’s approach to this season; the team’s motto, basically.
“We’ve been preaching this concept,” Vaughn explained, “because what happens with young players is, the game becomes this thing you put up on a pedestal and you make it bigger than it is. [So] you see young guys so it right over and over and over in practice, and the the game rolls around and they make it special, they make it bigger than it is, and it makes it hard for them to operate.”
So far the team has responded well, but Vaughn won’t really know whether the approach has worked until the first game.
“[It’s] a super catchy phrase,” Vaughn said, “but the reality is if we live that, I think we have a chance to be okay. If you put that work in then you can go into gamely with confidence and just do your thing.”
2. A new-look team
With 14 freshmen and two transfers, the 2020 Maryland squad will look very different than it did a year ago. Though there are enough returners to fill the starting lineup, Vaughn plans on integrating newcomers in to create the best lineup possible.
“We have more depth,” Vaughn said,” so I think you’ll see 10-to-12, [maybe] 13 regular position players is involved…same thing on the mound, we’re going to try to put guys in the right spots.”
Right now, the only parts of the lineup that Vaughn knows for certain are the one and three spots. Expect to see Chris Alleyne leading off come February 14th, with Bednar hitting cleanup.
Potential freshmen who could make an appearance in the season-opener lineup include Troy Schreffler Jr., Tucker Flint, Bobby Zmarzlak and Aaron Perez.
3. There won’t be a set rotation for a while
Vaughn plans on having six or seven pitchers ready for opening weekend, a sort of “Starter A, Starter B” situation for each game. While the Terps’ skipper has an idea of which arms will take those spots, a lot could change in the next few weeks.
“There’s a lot of options,” Vaughn said. “That’s what you get with a young team, that’s why we want to prepare six, throw them out there and let it play out.”
Keep an eye out for redshirt freshman Sean Burke, who has “electric stuff” according to Vaughn and could be a strong contender for a rotation slot. Other first years with starter potential include Nick Dean, Ryan Ramsey and Sam Bello.
In addition, two of last year’s starters, Zach Thompson and Trevor LaBonte, will likely be in the mix for a weekend role. Sean Fisher may also start some this season, as Vaughn has been transitioning the southpaw from a relief position to a starter’s schedule, hoping to try the junior out up front.
4. New No. 3 in town
Last season it was senior A.J. Lee who brought a lot of leadership to the Terps. This season it’s Randy Bednar who has transitioned into that role.
As Vaughn explained, the Maryland coaching staff has three key pillars in their program: toughness, ownership, and the growth mindset. Historically, the No. 3 jersey has gone to the player who best exemplified those qualities (back in his time as a Terp, assistant coach Anthony Papio wore No. 3).
This year it’s Bednar who dons the jersey.
“He shows up to work everyday,” Vaughn said. “He takes care of his business, classes, he’s on the Dean’s list as a junior…[he’s] a great, great representative of what it means to be a Maryland Baseball player. And on top of that…he’s starting to learn how to demand that the people around him rise up to his occasion.”
5. The team has high expectations for the season
Every team across college baseball has high expectations for itself. But even though the Terps made the Big Ten Tournament last season, they know they can go much further this season with the level of talent on the team.
“Seeing we could get there makes us know that we could do a lot more,” Bednar said. “Especially this year. I believe we’ve got all the talent…we have the capability of winning a Big Ten Championship, we have the capability of going out there and playing for a regional.”
“I think the sky’s the limit to this group,” Vaughn said. “Our players expect to win because they know how hard they’ve worked, they know how much time they spent getting after it every day.”