By Jacquelyn Budko
Maryland Baseball’s preseason has passed and the regular season is underway, but many questions remain for the Terps as they face a unfriendly schedule.
The biggest question entering this season is starting pitching. Maryland (2-4) lost starting pitcher Brian Shaffer and closer Ryan Selmer to the MLB Draft last year.
Shaffer led the Terps with a 2.66 ERA last season in 16 starts and was second in the Big Ten in strikeouts with 109. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ 6th round draft pick was Big Ten Pitcher of the Year. Selmer, the New York Mets’ 31st round draft pick, finished the 2017 season with a 3.05 ERA and eight saves in 27 appearances. The Terps also lost pitchers Mike Rescigno and Taylor Stiles.
The key change for the Terps this season is new head coach Rob Vaughn. Vaughn will be Maryland’s head coach this season after serving as an assistant for the team over the last five years. One student believes his experience with the team will be beneficial for a winning environment.
“I think Vaughn will be an effective coach this season especially since he’s been around the program for several seasons, so he has a good feel of the team’s dynamic,” said Paige Berman, a sophomore pre-nursing major.
Maryland will turn to Taylor Bloom and Tyler Blohm to replace Schaffer’s production as the team’s ace. Junior righty Hunter Parsons and freshman righty Mark DiLuia will most likely fill out the Terps starting rotation.
“Outside of Bloom and Blohm, I think the Terps’ starting pitching will struggle,” said Nelly Meschino, a senior criminology and criminal justice major.
Maryland will look to its offense to balance its pitching woes. The team’s biggest loss is shortstop Kevin Smith, who was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays last year. Smith led the team with a .552 slugging percentage and 48 RBIs, and tied for the team lead with 13 home runs.
The Terps’ biggest addition is Randy Bednar, a two-way player who is likely to focus more on playing the outfield this season, rather than pitching. Maryland also added catching depth after losing two of their three catchers. Justin Vought and Ty Friedrich join the team to fill the vacancies.
The Terps won 39 games last season and advanced to an NCAA Regional for the third time in the last four seasons. In their preseason series against the Tennessee Volunteers, starting Feb. 16, the Terps won their first two games, but dropped their third game on Feb. 18.
Bloom and Bolhm had solid solid starts against the Vols Feb. 16 and Feb. 18, allowing a combined eight hits and two runs, starting the season off strong for the Terps. Parsons gave up six hits and eight runs in only one inning in the Terps’ final game of the series.
After a the Terps lost their regular season opener at William & Mary Feb. 21, they lost two straight home games against Army at Bob Turtle Smith Stadium.
“I think if the Terps can solidify their starting pitching, they have a legitimate chance to be competitive in the Big Ten,” said sophomore information sciences major Mario Menendez.