In his first at-bat of the Greenville Regional tournament last June, senior outfielder Chris Alleyne swung on a pitch. Failing to square the ball up, it ricocheted off his bat and at his head. Alleyne fell to the ground and needed to be replaced.
In came Troy Schreffler Jr., a sophomore outfielder who cycled in and out of the everyday lineup, filling in for injured starters but never sticking with a true position throughout the regular season.
“I remember as a player, when you’re in and out of the lineup and you’re splitting time and you feel like every time you go in there ‘man, if I don’t get three hits I’m not going to play tomorrow,” said Head Coach Rob Vaughn. “It’s just a hard way to be successful.”
A moment that was one player’s worst nightmare – a premature end to a senior season due to a freak injury – was the best thing that could have happened to another. Schreffler Jr. finally had an opportunity to play in a full-time role.
He slugged five hits and brought in five runs across four games in the regional, including a three hit, two RBI performance in the championship game versus East Carolina. He played centerfield all four games, the spot Alleyne previously manned.
Finally playing full time for the first time as a Terp, Schreffler Jr. proved that he was worthy of a similar role the following season. Vaughn agreed.
“That could be the turning point in that kid’s career,” thought Vaughn at the time. “I thought it started last year in that regional.”
In his first season as a full-time starter in right field, Schreffler Jr. has been Maryland’s best hitter halfway through its non-conference slate. His .346 batting average leads the Terps and he’s top three on the team among qualified hitters in doubles, home runs, on-base percentage and OPS.
His totals have climbed steadily over his three seasons. The average is up from .275 in 2021, and his on-base and slugging percentages are 92 and 169 points higher than last season, respectively.
Those numbers won’t stay that high forever, but to date they’ve helped Maryland battle through a tough opening schedule.
“You’ve been waiting for the consistency to come around,” said Vaughn. “There’s still going to be ups and downs with every hitter… Troy’s not going to hit .500 all year, but his steadiness, his ability to… slow the game down is really the big difference.”
Schreffler Jr. is eight starts away from matching his 2021 total of 22 starts, and his 18 hits this season are only four behind what he finished with last season. In just over half the number of games, he’s already matched his 2021 finish in runs scored and RBI. The two home runs he’s slugged this season are already a career high for a season.
“It’s been awesome to see Troy bring it all together,” said Alleyne. “He’s a really toolsy player, super talented. To see him put up the numbers he’s putting up is really impressive. It’s big for our team.”
Even more impressive for Schreffler, and valuable for Vaughn, is that he’s been one of the team’s best hitters out of the seventh spot in the batting order. He’s hit there in every game this season, coming in behind the middle of the order that features Matt Shaw, Nick Lorusso, Maxwell Costes and Bobby Zmarzlak, creating a rare lineup that is truly seven legitimate threats deep at the plate.
“A lot of lineups, when you look at them, you’re worried about two guys,” said Vaughn. “Two, three, four, five, maybe those are the guys where if you can get those guys out, then you get a break. By having a guy like Schreffler in the seven hole, that’s one of our best players right now. You get through Bubba, get through Shaw, get through Lorusso, get through Max, get through Bob and you’re like ‘holy cow, where does this end?’ Because then here comes Schreffler.”