Preseason Countdown No. 15: Takeaways from Spring Media Day

With the start of college baseball season just weeks away, Maryland held its spring media day Monday afternoon. With a promising season ahead for the Terps, here’s what we learned from media day.

No Burke, no worries

After the Chicago White Sox took starter Sean Burke in the third round of the 2021 MLB Draft, the Terps turned their attention back to their current pitching staff. Maryland brings back freshman phenom Jason Savacool, who led the team in wins and innings pitched in 2021. 

Savacool was slated to play in the Cape Cod League over the summer but Head Coach Rob Vaughn had the right-hander work on getting stronger during the offseason. “He spent a lot of time with our strength coach here in the summer, working out four days a week. He came back in the fall and his body was much different, much stronger, much more physical. He just matured a lot,” said Vaughn of Savacool. 

Named preseason Big Ten Pitcher of the Year by D1Baseball, Nick Dean returns to the mound following an excellent sophomore campaign. Dean finished the year with a 2.87 ERA in nine starts while completing six innings or more in each of his final six appearances. Junior Ryan Ramsey will slide into a starting role this season after pacing the team with a 1.67 ERA in 16 appearances in 2021.   

Importance of midweek and non-conference games 

After playing a conference-only regular season schedule last year, the Terps return to non-conference play. A large portion of the roster hasn’t experienced a typical college baseball season. 

“Mid-weeks are going to be tough for kids to really adjust, playing a 62 game season plus whatever it is going into regional play,” said reliever Sean Heine. “Staying healthy, being consistent the entire season is really going to be a test for us.” 

Vaughn stressed the importance of building a tough non-conference schedule, as the Terps will play five teams from outside the Big Ten that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year. “If we’re going to line up and win when the chips are on the line in May and June, we better be exposed to it now,” said Vaughn. “We need to see where we are at, where do we stack up?”

Experience is key 

Heine and center fielder Chris Alleyne spoke about the experience they bring from last year’s run to the Regional Final. “Having guys like me and Sean [Heine] and even [Matt] Shaw returning from last year’s team gives that same dynamic of what we learned from last year,” said Alleyne. 

Heine wants to mentor the younger players and ensure they don’t make the same mistakes he did. “Something I wanted to do is have a lasting impact on these freshmen and sophomores…just give them my experience and my knowledge from what I’ve learned being here for five years,” said the right-hander. 

After an injury-riddled yet productive junior year, cleanup hitter Maxwell Costes is back for his senior season. Junior outfielder Bobby Zmarzlak, who made the All-Regional Team, returns to the lineup as well. 

The emergence of Matt Shaw

While Matt Shaw may not be an upperclassman, Vaughn spoke highly of him on media day. “I think his ceiling is getting paid to play baseball for a really long time…He’s a phenomenal teammate, a really, really good leader, and he cares about this place,” said Vaughn.

Last season, the Preseason second-team All-American finished top two on the club in average (.332), hits (61), runs (42) and doubles (14). The sophomore worked hard this offseason to improve his defense at shortstop, a position he made zero starts at last season. Shaw made such strides at the position that Vaughn said he would have been the team’s starting shortstop by season’s end if the team played into November. 

While Shaw has showcased his talents on the field, Vaughn is also impressed with how he carries himself off the field. “He’s meeting with people outside of me, not directed by me at all, talking about community service,” said Vaughn. “He’s a great kid. I think that success is going to take care of itself for him.”

Unfinished business”

The ending to last year’s season didn’t sit right with Coach Vaughn’s club. Talking with Vaughn, Alleyne and Heine, there is a sense of discontent around the team. The Terps feel as if they are built to make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament with their returning core. Heine said last year’s Regional exit is not something they will soon forget.

“Anytime there’s a Regional Final loss, especially missing our two best players at the time, you’re gonna feel it. We all feel it.”