Photo courtesy of Maryland athletics
The Maryland Terrapins have put together some exemplary seasons on the diamond in recent memory, led by some incredible players. They have sent countless players to the Major League Baseball Draft, and even the MLB.
The Terps have produced current big leaguers Brett Cecil, left-handed pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, who has carved out a lengthy career. Additionally, Adam Kolarek, the ultimate lefty specialist and Brandon Lowe, one of the best young bats, not only share a locker room, but an alma matter. Under head coach Rob Vaughn, they have become a well-respected program that competes year in and year out.
The Terps held a virtual media day this year, different than usual due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Coach Vaughn remembers the moment that the season ended for the Terps in 2020. The Terps jumped out to a 10-5 start last season. They were well on their way to making some noise in the Big Ten. That is what haunts him the most.
“It has been a very strange eight months,” Vaughn recalled. “It feels like just five minutes ago and five years ago (that the season ended). After we landed in Fort Worth, Texas, we got a call that things were done. It just happened so quick.”
The scheduled March contest at TCU was supposed to be a homecoming game of sorts for Vaughn. In a cruel twist of irony for the Texas native, he was not able to coach in his home state.
Big Ten Goes Conference-Only for 2021
The schedule for the Big Ten has drawn the ire and dismay of many coaches and players across the country. Big Ten schools will play a conference-only 44-game slate. Vaughn has maintained that he will not let it be a defining factor in the Terps’ season.
“The one thing that is pretty unanimous around the coaches’ circle is that we want to play as many games as humanly possible…,” he said. “We are going to get out there and play our best baseball every night.”
Additionally, the decision of how teams will get to games has been a big question. That is no different in College Park.
“We are going to try to bus as much as we can. We are not going to put these kids in a bad situation,” Vaughn said. “I won’t put them on a bus for 12 to 13 hours. I don’t think that is conducive to playing well. We will try to mitigate flying as much as possible this year.”
Playing in the COVID Era
That is a good segue to what will be the biggest storyline for the Terps this season: COVID-19. Specifically, what happens if a player or coach tests positive. Vaughn is prepared for that situation.
“I have had a simple message to the guys all year,” the head coach said. “That is, if you really want to play this year, and for all your hard work to pay off, be smart and safe. We have seen that even if a team gets out to a good start, it could all be for nothing if they get popped for too many COVID tests. It is hard to regain momentum after three weeks off.”
For the Maryland program, it not only thinks it is in a good position to succeed on the field, but off the field, too. The Terrapins will open their season on March 5 against Michigan State in Greenville, SC.
Vaughn preaches maturity and being the best version of oneself. Maryland’s players have all bought into this philosophy — one of the biggest reasons they can find success this season. This college baseball season will have its own trials and tribulations, but the goal remains the same: get to Omaha.