AJ Lee earns Big Ten Player of the Week honors

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Photo Credit: Maryland Athletics

Maryland senior shortstop AJ Lee has been named Big Ten Player of the Week after a dominant four games. It is Lee’s first weekly conference honor of the season.

In one game against James Madison and three games against Iowa this week, Lee hit .588 (10-for-17) with three home runs, two doubles and six RBI. He also worked two walks, stole two bases and came in to score eight times in the four Maryland victories.

Lee homered in each of the first three games of the weekend, including the biggest home run of his career — a walk-off bomb against Iowa Thursday night.

The senior started his great week by snapping an 0-for-25 slump in Tuesday’s 6-5 win over James Madison, recording a hit in his final three at-bats. He singled in the sixth and seventh, and then hit what turned out to be a game-winning solo home run in the top of the ninth.

He followed that up with a 3-for-4 day in Thursday’s opener against the Hawkeyes. Before the walk-off long ball, he singled twice and put down an RBI sacrifice bunt.

On Friday against Iowa, Lee put together a 2-for-4 day. He singled in the fifth and then hit his third home run in as many games with a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth.

In Saturday’s regular season finale, Lee posted another 2-for-4. After reaching on errors in his first two at-bats, he doubled in the fourth and fifth innings. Then, in his final career plate appearance at Bob ‘Turtle’ Smith Stadium, Iowa showed Lee the ultimate form of respect, and sent him to first base on an intentional walk.

Lee and the Terps will now head to Omaha, Nebraska for the 2019 Big Ten Tournament, where they will play their opening game against Illinois at 10:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday. Pregame coverage will start at 9:30 a.m. with Zach Solon on the call live from TD Ameritrade Trade Park on the Maryland Baseball Network.

Maryland’s Big Ten tournament scenario cheat sheet

With three games left to play in the regular season, Maryland sits in 10th place in the Big Ten Conference standings, just a half-game back of eighth-place Rutgers for the final conference tournament spot.

The Terps are now 9-12 in conference play, after losing two of three to Minnesota over the weekend. Maryland no longer controls its own destiny to clinch a Big Ten tournament appearance for the first time since 2017, but still has plenty of ways to get into the field of eight in Omaha next week.

Here’s a look at the current Big Ten Standings:

  1. Michigan 15-5*
  2. Indiana 14-7*
  3. Illinois 13-8*
  4. Nebraska 13-8*
  5. Minnesota 13-8*
  6. Iowa 12-9
  7. Northwestern 10-11
  8. Rutgers 9-11
  9. Ohio State 9-12
  10. Maryland 9-12
  11. Purdue 7-13
  12. Michigan State 7-13
  13. Penn State 4-18

* Clinched spot in Big Ten tournament 

Rob Vaughn’s team finishes the season with a three-game series at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium against the Iowa Hawkeyes (30-19, 12-19 Big Ten), a team that is not only playing for a Big Ten tournament spot, but an NCAA tournament bid as well.

With seven teams, including Maryland, chasing down the remaining three spots in Omaha, here’s a look at every scenario that gets the Terps back to the postseason.

Other series around the Big Ten:

Minnesota @ Northwestern, Illinois @ Michigan State, Ohio State @ Purdue, Rutgers @ Indiana, Michigan @ Nebraska

If the Terps go…

3-0 against the Hawkeyes

A sweep against Iowa would almost certainly put the Terps into the Big Ten tournament. At 12-12 in conference play, Maryland would only need these results to clinch a spot.

  1. Scenario 1: Maryland finishes in 6th place
    • Minnesota wins at least one game against Northwestern
    • Indiana wins at least one game against Rutgers
    • Purdue wins at least one game against Ohio State
  2. Scenario 2: Maryland finishes in 7th place
    • Northwestern sweeps Minnesota
    • Indiana wins at least one game against Rutgers
    • Purdue wins at least one game against Ohio State
  3. Scenario 3: Maryland finishes in 8th place
    • Northwestern sweeps Minnesota
    • Rutgers sweeps Indiana
    • Purdue wins at least one game against Ohio State

2-1 against the Hawkeyes

While the Terps would need some more help in this case, a series win would put Maryland in pretty good position. At 11-13 in conference play, the Terps would need these results to clinch a spot.

  1. Scenario 1: Maryland finishes in 7th place
    • Minnesota wins at least two games against Northwestern
    • Indiana wins at least two games against Rutgers
    • Purdue wins at least two games against Ohio State
  2. Scenario 2: Maryland finishes in 7th place
    • Minnesota wins two games against Northwestern
    • Indiana wins at least two games against Rutgers
    • Ohio State wins two games against Purdue
  3. Scenario 3: Maryland finishes in 8th place
    • Northwestern wins at least two games against Minnesota
    • Indiana wins at least two games against Rutgers
    • Purdue wins at least two games against Ohio State
  4. Scenario 4: Maryland finishes in 8th place
    • Minnesota wins at least two games against Northwestern
    • Rutgers wins at least two games against Indiana
    • Purdue wins at least two games against Ohio State
  5. Scenario 5: Maryland finishes in 8th place
    • Minnesota wins two games against Northwestern
    • Rutgers wins at least two games against Indiana
    • Ohio State wins two games against Purdue

1-2 against the Hawkeyes

Just one win this weekend would put Maryland in a tough position. At 10-14 in conference play, the Terps would need a lot of things to go their way.

  1. Scenario 1: Maryland finishes in 7th place
    • Minnesota sweeps Northwestern
    • Indiana sweeps Rutgers
    • Ohio State wins one of three against Purdue
    • Illinois wins at least one game against Michigan State
  2. Scenario 2: Maryland finishes in 8th place
    • Minnesota sweeps Northwestern
    • Indiana sweeps Rutgers
    • Ohio State wins one of three against Purdue
    • Michigan State sweeps Illinois
  3. Scenario 3: Maryland finishes in 8th place
    • Minnesota sweeps Northwestern
    • Indiana sweeps Rutgers
    • Ohio State wins zero, two, or three games against Purdue
    • Illinois wins at least one game against Michigan State

0-3 against the Hawkeyes

If the Terps are swept this weekend by Iowa, they will fall to 9-15 in conference and will be eliminated from contention. Maryland can not make the Big Ten tournament if the team loses its final three games.